Category Archives: U.S. Imperialism

Labour Party of Iran (Toufan): Long live the raging movement of the people of Iran!

Revolution is the midwife of every old society, which is pregnant with a new one. The grassroots movement in Iran that is entering its 5th day is an expression of the rejection of the totality of the criminal mafia in power; a power that is not accountable to the people and is trying to squeeze the life out of the poverty-stricken masses.  

This is a movement of wisdom against ignorance, a movement against poverty, unemployment, corruption, multi-milliard dollars embezzlement by the officials, looting of the meager savings of the millions of working people, and political repression. This is the cry of anger of millions of people who have waited patiently for years and are now challenging the regime of the Islamic Republic and are shaking its base.

The recent uprising is expression of the accumulated anger and dissatisfaction of the masses from the neo-liberal economic policies of the regime. This anger has built up during the past several decades.

The regime of the Islamic Republic has intensified the implementation of the dictates of the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.  Consequently, the economic condition of the masses has declined rapidly, the level of poverty has risen, inflation has skyrocketed, the cost of living has sharply increased, the purchasing power of the general population has declined, the price of water, gasoline, electricity, and other fuel has increased.

In the past several years, especially in 2017, there were many strikes, demonstration and protests by different sectors of the society; workers, teachers, retirees, unemployed, nurses, many thousand individuals who are the direct victims of looted bank savings, etc. It was expected that a general protest will develop in response to this condition.

Adding to this is the intensification of the inner fight between the factions of the regime of the Islamic Republic.  The protesters used this fight in their own service and targeted all factions of the regime of the Islamic Republic.

 All social and political sectors of the society are participating in these protests, from communists to revolutionaries, from ordinary masses to organized forces, from the monarchists to reactionary and pro-imperialist Mojahedeen and to individual agents of Zionists and imperialists. This uprising is spontaneous, mainly by the youth, does not have an organized leadership at this moment. Despite all shortcomings, this uprising is a genuine expression of discontent of the general population from four decades criminal rule of the Islamic Republic. The protest movement started with economic demands and is moving forward towards political issues.

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) hails the just and bold movement of Iranian people against the Islamic Republic that has ruled for nearly forty years using repression and extreme violence. We insist on the unity of the masses and on a clear and sharp stand against the aggressive imperialist powers and their agents who try to derail the movement.

 There is not yet sign of an increase in the number of workers in the streets. A general strike will force the regime to retreat and will provide the opportunity for the street demonstrators to continue protesting with a lower cost. The unbalanced class forces, the lack of political organization and leadership, and the exhaustion of the street protesters will not produce a condition in favor of the movement.

In the Middle East, the U.S. imperialists and Israeli Zionists are trying to penetrate any movement against the regimes that do not bend to their dictates. This is particularly true about Iran. The presence of agents and lackeys of the US imperialists and Israeli Zionists in a movement does not necessarily express the nature of the movement. In the present uprising in Iran, the role of these agents is not dominant. This is a spontaneous movement from bottom-up and not from top-down.  At the same time, the communists, left, and progressive forces must be very vigilant and analyze the erroneous slogans and stands that are expressed in the marches and expose the nature of them to the masses.

If the demands “bread, job, housing, liberty, social justice, and the republic” are more clearly expressed, if the slogans in support of the overthrown old order – the hereditary monarchy-  and the slogans that compromise with faction of the regime are rejected from the ranks of the movement, then one can hope,  with the rise of revolutionary forces in particular the Marxist-Leninists who are the true representatives of most radical social demands and who are strongly opposed to imperialist interventions, that the movement will achieve its goals.

The Party of Labour of Iran calls on the masses in the streets to be vigilant and avoid the premature violence. The agents of imperialists and Zionists and the sel-out circles do not value the human life. They only look for their interest. Every call on the masses should be carefully examined  and its source be investigated. 

The rights to formation of independent guilds, the right to employment and housing and unemployment insurance, the freedom of association and assembly, the separation of religion from the state and education, the abolition of gender segregation and compulsory veils and dress code, and the freedom of all political prisoners are part of the demands of the street demonstrators. The Party of Labour of Iran gives its whole hearted support to these demands and believes that no faction of the Islamic regime has the will to fulfill these just and popular demands of the masses.

The  Party of Labour of Iran ( Toufan) strongly condemns the brutal killings of the protesters and calls on the fraternal Parties and Organizations in the ” Internatinal Conference of the Marxist Leninist Parties and Organizetions” and on the revolutionary and progressive forces and individuals to condemn the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its crimes and to demand the immediate and unconditional release of all detained street protesters.

The remedy for the workers and the working people is unity and organization! 

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan)

January 1, 2018

www.Toufan.org

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Bill Bland: The Soviet Campaign Against Cosmopolitanism: 1947-1952

A paper presented to the Stalin Society, London, on 1 November 1998
by Bill Bland. First Published on the web February 2000 by ALLIANCE ML (NORTH AMERICA)

INTRODUCTION

IN 1946-1952 THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION CARRIED ON AN INTENSIVE CAMPAIGN AGAINST COSMOPOLITANISM.

“The word ‘cosmopolitan’ is derived from two Greek words, ‘kosmos’ meaning ‘world’ and ‘polites’ meaning ‘citizen.'”

(Eric Partridge: ‘Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English’; London; 1958; p. 122, 508).

In its etymology, therefore, a cosmopolitan is a “citizen of the world,” rather than a citizen of a particular country.

Now, in ordinary usage the word “cosmopolitan” carries positive connotations, connotations of sophistication. One’s first reaction to the Soviet campaign against cosmopolitanism, therefore, may well be to wonder why on earth the Communist Party should want the Soviet working people to be boorish.

The explanation lies in the fact that Marxism-Leninism is a science, the science of politics, and to Marxist-Leninists the term “cosmopolitan” has a more specific, more negative, connotation than in everyday language.

The Treatment of the Anti-Cosmopolitan Campaign in the Western Media

The most common “explanation” of the anti-cosmopolitan campaign put forth in the Western media was that anti-cosmopolitanism was a euphemism for anti-Semitism.

Critics speak of:

“The anti-Semitism lurking behind the term as used by Stalin.”

(Timothy Brennan: ‘At Home in the World: Cosmopolitanism Now’; Cambridge (USA); 1997; p. 21).

But this “explanation” cannot be made to fit the known facts.

Firstly, we know that Stalin strongly condemned anti-Semitism:

“Anti-Semitism, as an extreme form of racial chauvinism, is the most dangerous vestige of cannibalism…Hence Communists, as consistent internationalists, cannot but be irreconcilable, sworn enemies of anti-Semitism….Under USSR law active anti-Semites are liable to the death penalty.”

(Josef V, Stalin: ‘Anti-Semitism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 13; Moscow; 1955; p. 30).

Secondly, even Jewish writers like Benjamin Pinkus, Professor of Jewish History at the Ben-Gurion University in Israel, admit that:

“….It is important to emphasise that in these attacks (the anti-cosmopolitanism campaign Ed.) there was no anti-Jewish tone, either explicitly or implicitly.”

(Benjamin Pinkus: ‘The Jews of the Soviet Union: The History of a National Minority’ (hereafter listed as ‘Benjamin Pinkus (1989)’; Cambridge; 1989; p 152).

Thirdly, the artists most strongly criticised in the anti-cosmopolitanism campaign, the poetess Anna Akhmatova and the satirist Mikhail Zoshchenko were not Jewish:

“The chief victims . . . were two non-Jews – the satirist M. Zoshchenko and the poetess A. Ahianatova.”

(Benjamin Pinkus (1989): ibid.; p. 151).

Fourthly, Jews:

“Took an active part in the anti-cosmopolitanism campaign”;

(Benjamin Pinkus (1989): ibid.; p. 157)

including:

“The philosopher and member of the Academy of Sciences Mark Mitin; the journalist David Zaslavsky, and the orientalist V(ladimir –Ed.) Lutsky.”

(Benjamin Pinkus (1989): ibid.; p. 157)

Marxism-Leninism and National Distinctions

To Marxist-Leninists, a cosmopolitan is one who disparages national distinctions.

It is true that Marxist-Leninists envisage that, in the socialist world of the future, national distinctions of language and culture would eventually disappear:

“I have always adhered and continue to adhere to the Leninist view that in the period of the victory of socialism on a world scale, the national languages are inevitably bound to merge into one common language, which, of course, will be neither Great Russian nor German, but something new.”

(Josef V. Stalin: Reply to the Discussion on the Political Report of the Central Committee to the 16th Congress of the CPSU (B), in: ‘Works’, Volume 13; Moscow; 1955; p. 5).

However, Marxist-Leninists recognise that until that time in the distant future distinctions of national language and culture will remain. As Stalin told the 16th Congress of the CPSU in June 1930:

“National differences cannot disappear in the near future, . . . they are bound to remain for a long time even after the victory of the proletarian revolution on a world scale.

(Josef V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 4-5).

“We have abolished national privileges and have established national equality of rights. We have abolished state frontiers in the old sense of the term, frontier posts and customs barriers between the nationalities of the USSR. . . . But does this mean that we have thereby abolished national differences, national languages, culture, manner of life, etc.? Obviously it does not mean this.”

(Josef V. Stalin: Political Report of the Central Committee to the CPSU (B), in: ‘Works’, Volume 12; Moscow; 1955; p. 376).

Indeed, the policy of Marxist-Leninists is to do everything possible to encourage the fullest flowering of national languages and cultures. As Stalin told the students of the University of the Peoples of the East in May 1925, the tasks of the Communist Party are:

“To develop national culture, to set up a wide network of courses and schools for both general education and vocational-technical training, to be conducted in the native languages. The slogan of national culture became a proletarian slogan when the proletariat came to power. .Proletarian universal culture does not exclude, but presupposes and fosters the national culture of the peoples.”

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The Political Tasks of the University of the Peoples of the East’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 7; Moscow; 1954; p.138, 140, 142).

And as he said in his political report to the 16th Congress of the Party in June 1930:

“It may seem strange that we who stand for the future merging of national cultures into one common (both in form and content) culture, with one common language, should at the same time stand for the flowering of national cultures at the present moment. . . . But there is nothing strange about it. The national cultures must be allowed to develop and unfold, . . in order to create the conditions for merging them into one common culture with one common language in the period of the victory of socialism all over the world. . . . It is just this that constitutes the dialectics of the Leninist presentation of the question of national culture.”

(Josef V. Stalin: Political Report of the Central Committee to the 16th Congress of the CPSU (B), in: ‘Works;’, Volume 12; Moscow; 1955; p. 380).

It is on the basis of these Marxist-Leninist principles that the Soviet Communist Party opposed cosmopolitanism, which, as we have seen, disparages national cultures.

The Soviet Campaign against Cosmopolitanism

Criticism of cosmopolitanism in Russia did not begin with the socialist revolution. The 19th century literary critic Vissarion Belinsky wrote:

“The cosmopolitan is a false, senseless, strange and incomprehensible phenomenon. . . . He is a corrupt, unfeeling creature, totally unworthy of being called by the holy name of man.”

(Vissarion Belinsky, in: Benjamin Pinkus (1989): op. cit.; p. 153-54).

Already during the Second World War, Aleksandr Fadayev, Chairman of the Union of Soviet Writers, had written:

“The German invaders were deliberately encouraging rootless cosmopolitanism, which stems from the so-called idea that everybody is a ‘citizen of the world.”‘

(Aleksandr Fadayev, in: Norah Levin: ‘The Jews in the Soviet Union since 1917’; London; 1990; p. 464).

Later it was pointed out that the concept of a cosmopolitan Europe was a continuation of the Nazi ideology of a “new order in Europe”:

“Yesterday this reactionary cosmopolitan idea of a world state meant the Hitlerite ‘new order in Europe’, trampling on the national sovereignty and independence of the European peoples.”

(R. Miller-Budnitskaya: ‘Cosmopolitanism of the Literary Hollywood’, in: ‘Novy Mir’, no. 6, 1948, in: Benjamin Pinkus; ‘The Soviet Government and the Jews: 1948-1967: A Documentary Study’ (hereafter listed as ‘Benjamin Pinkus (1984)’; Cambridge; 1984; p. 183).

Already in an article in June 1945, the writer N. Baltiisky declared that:

“Communism has nothing in common with cosmopolitanism, that ideology which is characteristic of representatives of banking firms and international consortiums, great stock exchange speculators and international suppliers of weapons and their agents. Indeed, these circles operate according to the Roman saying ubi bene, ibi patria (where there is profit, there is one’s motherland — Ed.).”

(N. Baltiisky, in: Benjamin Pinkus (1989): op. cit.; p. 151).

It was in 1946, however, that anti-cosmopolitanism took the form of a systematic, intensive campaign. In the spring of 1946, for example, at the 11th Plenary Session of the Union of Soviet Writers, the Union’s Chairman, Aleksandr Fadayev, launched a severe criticism:

“Against Yitzhak Nusinov ‘s treatment of Pushkin in his book ‘Pushkin and World Literature. . Fadayev denounced the ‘denationalisation’ of Pushkin by Nusinov.”

(Nora Levin: op. cit.; p. 468).

Fadayev charged that:

“The fundamental idea of the book is that Pushkin’s genius does not express the uniqueness of the historical development of the Russian nation, as a Marxist ought to have shown, but that Pushkin’s greatness consistsd in his being ‘European.'”

(Benjamin Pinkus (1989): op. cit.; p. 152).

The campaign against cosmopolitanism

“spread throughout the Soviet mass media – radio, press. literature, cinema, theatre, scientific and popular lectures, wall-notices at places of work.”

(Benjamin Pinkus (1989): ibid.; p. 155).

The campaign was not directed against foreign influences in general. As the writer Ilya Ehrenburg expressed it:

“It is impossible to toady to Shakespeare or Rembrandt, because prostration before them cannot humiliate the worshipper.”

(Ilya Ehrenburg, in: Nora Levin: op. cit.; p. 466).

It was directed against presenting inferior foreign works of art, even those with an anti-socialist content, as admirable. A leading article in ‘Bolshevik’, the theoretical organ of the CPSU, during 1947 said:

“Traces of subservience to bourgeois Western culture have found expression . . in . . . bowing and scraping . . . to bourgeois Western scholarship.”

(‘Bolshevik’ No. 16, 1947, in: Benjamin Pinkus (1989): op. cit.; p. 152).

In the campaign it was made very clear that opposition to cosmopolitanism was in no way to be confused with opposition to internationalism. Speaking to a conference of music workers in 1948, Andrei Zhdanov, the Central Committee Secretary responsible for cultural affairs, stressed:

“Internationalism in art does not spring from the depletion and impoverishment of national art; on the contrary, internationalism grows where national culture flourishes. To forget this is to…become a cosmopolitan without a country. It is impossible to be an internationalist in music or in anything else unless one loves and respects one’s own people. . . . Our internationalism in music and respect for the creative genius of other nations is therefore based on the enrichment and development of our national musical culture, which we can then share with other nations.”

(Andrei A. Thdanov: Concluding Speech at a Conference of Soviet Music Workers, 1948, in: ‘On Literature, Music and philosophy’; London; 1950; p. 62-63).

A milestone in the anti-Cosmoplitanism campaign was the August 1947 report by Zhdanov, which strongly criticised certain Soviet writers and artists who were alleged to have sunk into cosmopolitanism:

“Leningrad’s literary journals started giving space to cheap modern bourgeois literature from the West. Some of our men of letters began looking on themselves as not the teachers but the pupils of petty-bourgeois writers and began to adopt an obsequious and awestruck attitude towards foreign literature.”

(Andrei A. Zhdanov: Report on the Journals ‘Zvezda’ and ‘Leningrad,, in: ibid.; p. 31).

The campaign against cosmopolitanism, of course, defended not only the national culture of Russia, but that of:

“All the nations in the Soviet Union.”
(Benjamin Pinkus (1989): op. cit.; p. 154).

The campaign was greatly intensified in the first months of 1949, to become:

“an attack on an organised group, which had supposedly practised . . . an attempt to create a kind of literary underground.”

(Benjamin Pinkus (1989): ibid.; p. 155).

At this time it was directed particularly at an organised group of revisionist dramatic critics who were slating good Soviet plays and praising worthless foreign plays for their “sophistication”:

“An anti-patriotic group has developed in theatrical criticism. It consists of followers of bourgeois aestheticism. . . . These critics. . represent a rootless cosmopolitanism which is deeply repulsive and inimical to Soviet man.. .The sting of aesthetic-formalist criticism is directed not against the really harmful and inferior works, but against the progressive and best ones.”

(‘On an Anti-Patriotic Group of Theatre Critics’, in: ‘Pravda’, 28 January 1949, in: Benjamin Pinkus (1984): op. cit. ; p. 183-84).

“This group, hostile to Soviet culture, set itself the aim of vilifying the outstanding events of our literature and the best in Soviet dramaturgy.'”

(Benjamin Pinkus (1989): op. cit.; p. 155).

The anti-cosmopolitanism campaign:

“lasted in a subdued form until the second half of 1952.”

(Benjamin Pinkus (1984): op. cit.; p. 164).

The Domestic and International Background to the Campaign

It is clear from what has been said that the Soviet campaign against cosmopolitanism was fully in accord with Marxist-Leninist principles, which stand in our era for the fullest development of national cultures, not for their impoverishment.

The question arises, however: why was it felt necessary to organise an intensive campaign against cosmopolitanism precisely in 1947-52?

The reasons are partly domestic, partly international.

In the Soviet Union, revisionists in the cultural field felt that after four years of bloody war, moves towards light, escapist culture would have popular support. The Russian-born American journalist Alexander Werth noted:

“In Moscow, in particular, there were extraordinary signs of frivolity and escapism. The famous chansonnier and diseur Alexander Vertinsky, after spending more than twenty years as an idol of the Russian emigres in Paris, New York and Shanghai, turned up in Moscow. His recitals of ‘decadent’ songs drew immense crowds….Although he was never reviewed or advertised in the press, posters announcing Vertinsky recitals were stuck up all over Moscow….Both songs and films were tending to become escapist, . . . In 1944 the cinemas were showing American films, among them a particularly inane Deanna Durbin film. It was even widely suggested that light reading would be encouraged. Thus, there was a scheme for starting a library of thrillers and detective stories in Russian — mostly translated from English.”

(Alexander Werth: ‘Russia at War: 1941-1945’; London; 1965; p. 939-41, 942).

In the international field, we know now from official documents that in May 1945, within weeks of Germany’s surrender, Churchill was already planning

“..a massive attack against the Red Army leading to the elimination of Russia”,

(‘Guardian’, 2 October 1998; p. 7).

to be:

“supported by 100,000 defeated German soldiers.”

(‘Guardian’, 2 October 1998; p. 7).

However, the chiefs of staff committee considered the plan unworkable, as:

“beyond our power”;

(‘Guardian’, 2 October 1998; p. 7).

Nevertheless, in March 1946 Churchill made his famous speech at Fulton, Missouri, heralding on the one hand

“Special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States.”

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 6; p. 7,771).

and on the other hand declaring cold war on the Soviet Union:

“A shadow has fallen upon the scenes so lately lightened by the Allied victory…An iron curtain has descended across the continent.”

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 6; p. 7,771).

In March 1947 US President Harry Truman initiated the “Truman Doctrine”

“..to prevent the further spread of communism”,

(‘Encyclopedia Americana’, Volume 18; New York; 1977; p. 328).

In June 1947 US Secretary of State George Marshall announced the Marshall Plan,” euphemistically titled the “European Recovery Programme” (ERP), presented as generous American “aid” to war-devastated Europe, but by which:

“…containment was extended effectively to Western Europe.”

(‘Encyclopedia Americana’, Volume 27; New York; 1977; p. 176).

In July 1947, the Soviet government broke off negotiations with the Western Powers on the “Marshall Plan”:

“…and announced that the machinery envisaged under the Plan would infringe on the national sovereignty of the participants.”

(Adam B. Ulam: “Stalin: The Man and his Era”; London; 1989; p. 659).

Indeed, the Marshall Plan soon became a US intelligence operation. In June 1948, the US National Security Council:

“Approved a top secret document . . . establishing a covert arm within the existing CIA. The new covert organisation was soon named the ‘Office of Policy Coordination’. From its creation in 1948 until 1952 when the Marshall Plan was terminated, the OPC operated as the plan’s complement.”

(Sallie Pisani: ‘The CIA and the Marshall Plan’; Edinburgh; 1991; p. 70).

It was:

“Under State Department control but funded by the CIA.”

(John Ranelagh: ‘The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA’; London; 1986; p. 116).

being in reality:

“An American initiative in the cold war with Russia.”

(John Gimbel: ‘The Origins of the Marshall Plan’; Stanford (USA): 1970; p. 4).

In September 1947, the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform) was founded, and at its inaugural meeting Zhdanov declared:

“That two blocs had materialised since the end of the war, an imperialist and anti-democratic bloc led by the USA, and an anti-imperialist and democratic bloc led by the Soviet Union. . . . The first bloc was planning an aggressive war against the second.”

(Andrei A. Zhdanov: Speech at Founding Session of Cominform, September 1947, in: ‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 6; p. 8,920).

The new international situation was summed up by Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov on the 30th anniversary of the October Revolution in November 1947:

“Today the ruling circles of the USA and Britain are at the head of an international group which has made it its purpose to . . . establish the dominance of these countries over other nations.”

(Vyacheslav Molotov: Speech of November 1947, in: ‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 6; p. 8,940).

In March 1948, a military alliance known as:

“the ‘Brussels Treaty’ was signed by Britain, France, and the ‘Benelux’ countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg).”

(Richard B. Morris & Graham W. Irwin (Eds.): ‘An Encylopaedia of the Modern World: A Concise Reference History from 1760 to the Present Day’; London; 1970; P. 586).

In April 1949, the foreign ministers of twelve states — Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and the USA — signed a broader military alliance: the North Atlantic Treaty, establishing the ‘North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’ (NATO). (‘Statesman’s Year Book: 1998-1999’; London; 1998; p. 37).

NATO:

“was the logical extension of the ‘Brussels Treaty.”

(D. C. Watt, Frank Spencer & Neville Brown: ‘A History of the World in the 20th Century’; London; 1997; p. 650).

It was therefore clear to the Soviet government that it was faced with a real threat of aggression from the Western Powers, and that cosmopolitanism was an ideological weapon in that threat.

The Soviet campaign against cosmopolitanism of 1947-52 was thus a campaign of defence for itself and other countries whose independence was threatened by imperialism.

In his speech at the inaugural session of the Cominform, Zhdanov asserted:

“One of the directions of the ideological campaign which accompanies the plans for enslaving Europe is an attack on the principle of national sovereignty, an appeal for the renunciation of sovereign rights set off by the idea of a ‘world government.'”

(Andrei A. Zhdanov: Speech at Founding Session of Cominform (September 1947), in: ‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 6; p. 8,020).

A typical article in the campaign declared:

“Cosmopolitanism is the militant ideology of imperialist reaction in our time. By disseminating the corrupt ideology of cosmopolitanism., the American imperialists are trying ideologically to disarm freedom-loving people who stand up for their national independence, to foster in them indifference to their own motherland, to cultivate national nihilism, and to weaken their vigilance. . .
The ideologists of American imperialism declare that in our century such concepts as the nation, national sovereignty, patriotism, etc., are ‘out-worn’, and must be thrown overboard.

The right-wing socialists, the faithful servants of American imperialism, are active preachers of cosmopolitanism.”

(E. Dunayeva: ‘Cosmopolitanism in the Service of Imperialist Reaction’; in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 2, No. 16 (3 June 1950); p. 18).

and some articles went so far as to compare cosmopolitanism with atomic and bacteriological weapons:

“Cosmopolitanism occupies a prominent place in the arsenal of contemporary imperialism, along with the atom bomb and bacteriological warfare.”

(E. A. Korovin: “For a Patriotic Science of Law’, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 2, No. 2 (25 February 1950); p. 13).

Globalisation

These days, some forty years on from the great Soviet campaign against cosmopolitanism, we hear little mention of the term.

But that is not because cosmopolitanism has disappeared. On the contrary, it has merely acquired a new name: globalisation.

Indeed, globalisation has become a new branch of sociology, known as ‘World System Theory’, attributed to the American sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein.

Sovereignty

Sovereignty is simply:

“authority”;

(‘Oxford English Dictionary’, Volume 16; Oxford; 1989; p. 79).

and one of the principal attributes of a state’s sovereignty is the power to impose measures of protection.

Protection

Protection:

“Can be defined as any policy measure which discriminates between home and foreign supplies”;

(H. Peter Gray: ‘Free Trade or Protection? A Pragmatic Analysis’; Basingstoke; 1985; p. 1).

to the disadvantage of the latter. Protection may be carried out by the imposition of “tariffs” or duties, a tariff or duty being:

“A tax levied on imported goods . . designed to protect domestic producers against competition from imports”,

(‘Encyclopedia Americana’, Volume 26; New York; 1977; p. 295).

by the imposition of quotas, a quota being:

“the maximum number of . . . imports allowed to enter a country within a set period.”

(‘Oxford English Dictionary’, Volume 13; Oxford; 1989; p. 52).

or by the imposition of export subsidies, that is,

“financial aid furnished by a state or a public corporation”;

(‘Oxford English Dictionary’, Volume 17; Oxford; 1989; p. 60).

to an exporter.

In general, technically advanced capitalist countries, imperialist countries, benefit from and want a maximum of free trade, defined as a:

“system by which foreign goods are allowed to enter a country in unlimited quantities and without payment”;

(‘Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English’; Harlow; 1987; p. 412).

of any taxes. This is because in the absence of protection, superior technique of production gives countries possessing them an advantage over more technically backward countries.

On the other hand, more technically backward countries benefit from and want the sovereign right to impose protective measures, since without them their industries cannot compete with cheaper imports from the more technically advanced countries. These are the essential motives behind the drive by imperialist states to build and extend “free trade areas,” a free trade area being an area of the world with right to impose protective measures. Furthermore, such a free trade area enables the participating states to pool their resources for more effective competition with their rivals.

Since the Second World War, three rival blocs of imperialist powers have developed in the world: these are, in fact:

“Three growing superstates and blocs: the EC (European Community — Ed.) led by Germany; the USA-dominated North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico; and the Pacific area headed by Japan.”

(John Boyd: “Britain and European Union: Democracy or Superstate? (After Maastricht)”; Merseyside; 1993; p. 14).

Each of these three blocs came to sponsor globalisation measures centred upon itself.

European Sponsored Globalisation

Proposals for a United States of Europe go back many years. Lenin commented on these proposals:

Temporary agreements between capitalists and between the powers are possible. In this sense the United States of Europe is possible as an agreement between the European capitalists . . . but what for? Only for the purpose of jointly suppressing socialism in Europe, of jointly protecting colonial booty against Japan and America. . . . Under capitalism, the United States of Europe would mean the organisation of reaction to retard the more rapid development of America.”

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘The “United States of Europe” Slogan’. in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 140-41).

The proposals for a United States of Europe made practcal advances only after World War II.

In April 1951,

“Belgium, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Luxmbourg and the Netherlands signed the Treaty of Paris, establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The treaty provided for pooling of coal and steel production and was regarded as a first step towards a united Europe.”

(“Statesman’s Yearbook: 1998-1999′; London; 1998; p. 42).

In March 1957,

“The European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAAC or Euratom) were . . . created under separate treaties signed in Rome. . . . The treaties provided for the establishment by stages of a common market with a customs union at its core.”

(“Statesman’ s Yearbook: 1998-1999”; London; 1998; p. 42).

According to the preamble to the Treaty of Rome, its aims were:

“To lay the foundations of an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe.”

(Preamble: Treaty of Rome, in: Richard Owen & Michael Dynes: ‘The Times Guide to the Single European Market: A Comprehensive Handbook’; London; 1992; p. 50).

At first, British imperialism stood aside from the developing EEC, in favour of continuing dependence on United States imperialism, the so-called ‘special relationship’:

“Atlanticism remained the main pillar of British ruling class strategy.”

(Dave Packer: ‘Wnere is Europe going?’, in: ‘Maastricht: The Crisis of European Integration’; London; 1993; p. 9).

Indeed, in November 1959, the British imperialists:

“Joined Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland . . . to form a European Free Trade Association EFTA’s members undertook to remove all tariff and quota restrictions on industrial trade among them in 10 years.”

(‘Encyclopedia Americana’, Volume ; New York; 1977; p. 706).

EFTA came formally into existence in May 1960. (‘Statesman’s Yearbook: 1998-1999’; London; 1998; p. 56).

But by this time it was already clear:

“That EFTA did not have the size or political clout to make it a credible competitor or alternative to the EC.”

(Thomas Pedersen: ‘The Wider Western Europe: EC Policy towards the EFTA Countries’; London; 1988; p. 3).

So in 1961, barely a year after Britain had been instrumental in setting up EFTA:

“British capitalism made a belated turn towards Europe.”

(Dave Packer: op. cit.; p. 9).

“To apply for full membership.”

(Richard Owen & Michael Dynes: op. cit.; p. 51).

of the EEC.

In 1963:

“The British application was vetoed by de Gaulle . on the grounds that Britain’s ties were transatlantic rather than European. It was renewed by Harold Wilson in 1966, and again vetoed by de Gaulle.”

(Richard Owen & Michael Dynes: op. cit.; p. 51).

In April 1965:

“The common institutions of the three Communities were established by a treaty signed in Brussels.”

(‘Europa World Year Book: 1998’, Volume 1; London; 1998; p. 152).

In July 1968,

“The removal of internal tariffs was completed, accompanied by the erection of a common external tariff to protect the new common market.”

(Richard Owen & Michael Dynes: op, cit.; p, 50).

In January 1973, Britain, Denmark and Ireland:

“Finally became EC members”;

(Richard Owen & Michael Dynes: op, cit.; p, 51).

Greece joined the EEC in January 1981, Portugal and Spain in January 1986, Austria, Finland and Sweden in January 1985. (‘Statesman’s Yearbook: 1998-1999’; London; 1998; p. 42).

The heart of the Single European Act, signed in December 1985:

“Was the commitment to a single European market by 31 December 1992, and the agreement that the EC had the right to lay down policy throughout the Community in areas from taxation to tourism.”

(Richard Owen & Michael Dynes: op, cit.; p. 58).

The Madrid summit of June 1989 gave:

“The go-ahead to develop a three-stage plan for economic and monetary union, with phase one beginning on 1 July 1990.”

(Richard Owen & Michael Dynes: op, cit.; p, 58).

Cooperation between the EFTA and the EEC culminated in May 1992 in the Treaty of Oporto setting up the “European Economic Area” (EEA) between the European Community (EC) and EFTA. (Therese Blanchet, Risto Piiponen & Maria Westman-Clement: ‘The Agreement on the Economic Economic Area (EEA)’; Oxford; 1994; p. 1);

For the EFTA countries, membership of EEA, would it was thought:

“Ease the way towards full menbership of the Union”:

(Therese Blanchet, Risto Puponen & Maria Westman-Clement: ibid.; p.x).

The Treaty of Maastricht, of December 1991:

“Established a ‘European Union’. . . . The aims of the Union were defined as . . . the creation of an area without internal frontiers and, . . . a single currency; . . . the introduction of a citizenship pf the Union.”

(Richard Owen & Michael Dynes: op, cit.; p. 60).

The:

“European central bank and the currency union are to be established by 1999.”

(T. David Mason & Abdul M. Turay (Eds.): ‘Japan, NAFTA and Europe: Trilateral Cooperation or Confrontation?’; Basingstoke; 1994; p. 3).

The Maastricht Treaty marked

“A fundamental change in the constitutional basis of the British state. Considerable political power will be shifted from Westminster to the European Commission, which is not elected nor can it be removed by democratic means.”

(‘Maastricht: The Crisis of European Integration’; op. cit.; p. 3).

It went:

“Further than any previous treaty towards a European state. It establishes the concept of ‘European citizenship’, sets out procedures and timetables for a single currency as part of an economic and monetary union, establishes a common policy on judicial affairs, and provides for a common foreign, security and defence policy…Economic power will be shifted from both the national governments and national banks to a completely unaccountable European central bank.”

(Dave Packer: op. cit.; p. 6).

Of course:

“Integration will be on the terms of the richest and most powerful member — Germany.”

(Dave Packer: ibid,; p. 10).

which forms the heartland of:

“A German-dominated Europe.”

(Dave Packer: ibid.; p. 10).

Furthermore, Maastricht must be seen as:

“a weapon directed against the working class. .Cutting ‘excessive government spending’ (Article 104c) has already led to the first anti-Maastricht strikes in Italy and Greece. In Italy, massive cuts in the welfare state brought hundreds of thousands on to the streets, protesting at attempts to roll the wheel of history backward towards the 19th century.”

(Dave Packer: ibid; p. 10).

From November 1993, the EEC:

“Was formally changed to the European Community (EC) under the Treaty on European Union. . . . The new Treaty established a European Union (EU) which introduced citizenship thereof and aimed to increase inter-governmental cooperation in economic and monetary affairs, to establish a common foreign and security policy, and to introduce cooperation in justice and home affairs.”

(‘Europa World Year Book: 1998’, Volume 1; London; 1998; p. 152).

Before Britain joined the European Communities, the British government’s 1971 White Paper pledged:

“There is no question of any erosion of essential national sovereignty.”

(White Paper: ‘The United Kingdom and the European Communities’, in:
‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 18; p. 24,862).

and promised that:

“Our economy will be stronger and our industries and people more prosperous if we join the European Communities than if we remain outside them.”

(White Paper: ‘The United Kingdom and the European Communities’, in: ‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 18; p. 24,864).

In fact, in joining the EC:

“Britain gave up sovereign rights over trade, agriculture, steel, shipbuilding, energy, transport, . . fishing rights and monopoly mergers. Britain also accepted the burden to subsidise the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and abandoned former trading partners by foregoing the sovereign right to purchase cheaper food products from around the world.”

(John Boyd: op. cit.; p. 3).

and:

“. . the economic promise offered by EC membership proved to be a mirage”;

(Brian Burkitt, Mark Baimbridge & Stephen Reed: ‘From Rome to Maastricht:
A Reappraisal of Britain’s Membership of the European Community’; London;
1992; p. 3).

Indeed:

“The EC proved to be a major contributory factor in Britain’s relative economic decline”,

(Brian Burkitt, Mark Baimbridge & Stephen Reed: ibid.; p. 6).

After Britain joined the EC:

“The relative decline of British manufacturing not only continued but accelerated…Before membership, the UK enjoyed annual surpluses in manufacturing trade with . . . the EC.”

(Brian Burkitt, Mark Baimbridge & Stephen Reed: ibid.; p. 3, 10-11).

But:

“In the 1980s Britain finally became a substantial net importer of manufactures after being in. . .surplus since the industrial revolution.”

(Brian Burkitt, Mark Baimbridge & Stephen Reed: ibid.; p. 19).

Thus:

“Largely because of EC membership Britain and its people have experienced:

an industrial decline without precedent in world history – over 4 million employees being removed from manufacturing according to the 1991 census; fewer than one in four men now works in manufacturing and more than half are employed in the service sector; 80% of working women are in service industries and only one in eight in manufacturing; the manufacturing workforce fell by 338,000 in 1991, and by 263,000 in 1992;….the near disappearance of the merchant fleet and virtual abandonment of the western ports’… the demise of the fishing fleet and fishing ports with foreign fleets fishing out of British waters under the Common Fishing Policy of the EC.”

(John Boyd: op. cit.; p. 27-28).

Furthermore, instead of the benefits promised to British manufacturers by the opening up of the European market:

“Britain now experiences huge trade deficits. . . . The 1992 trade deficit with the EC was £5,074 millions and of this £3,000 millions was with Germany.”

(John Boyd: ibid.; p. 28).

American-Sponsored Globalisation

In January 1988, a:

“Free-trade agreement between the USA and Canada . . . was signed.”

(‘Europa World Year Book: 1998’, Volume 1; London; 1998; p. 203).

In June 1990, US:

“President George Bush set forth his vision of free trade from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.”

(Sidney Weintraub: ‘NAFTA: What comes next?’; Westport (USA); 1994; p. 80).

and in December 1992 the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement was extended to include Mexico 1992 by

“The ‘North American Free Trade Agreement’ (NAFTA)”;

(Sidney Weintraub: ibid.; p. xxi).

The Canada-US Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA:

“Impose strict and binding controls on Canadian governments from which the only escape is repudiation”;

(Preface to: Maude Barlow & Bruce Campbell: ‘Take back the Nation: 2: Meeting the Threat of NAFTA’; Toronto; 1993; p. vii).

As a result:

“NAFTA has become the supreme law of Canada with powers to override both federal and provincial legislation. . . . NAFTA is resigned to transfer power away from democratically-elected governments and place it in the hands of transnational corporations”;

(Maude Barlow & Bruce Campbell: ibid.; p. 92).

so that:

“Canada faces extinction as an independent nation.”

(Preface to: Maude Barlow & Bruce Campbell: ibid.; p. vii).

The principal benefits of NAFTA have accrued to US manufacturers who have transferred some or all of their production facilities south of the border into northern Mexico, where:

“The labour costs were one-tenth the US level”,

(Maude Barlow & Bruce Campbell: ibid.; p. 74).

but:

“Labour productivity was surprisingly higher than in the US.”

(Maude Barlow & Bruce Campbell: ibid.; p. 74).

The blatant loss of sovereignty which globalisation has brought on Mexico is well illustrated by the case of the Mexican gynaecologist, Dr. Alvarez Macham, who in 1990:

“Was seized by Mexican bounty hunters from his office in Guadalajara and delivered to (US — Ed.) federal agents waiting across the border. The United States action . . . was later upheld by the (US — Ed.) Supreme Court.”

(‘New York Times’, 22 June 1993; p. A11).

Japanese-sponsored Globalisation

Held back by its defeat and occupation in the Second World War, the most recent imperialist power to sponsor globalisation has been Japan:

“Barely a generation ago, Japan accounted for less than 2% of the world economy, while the United States accounted for about 35%. By 1980 Japan’s share of the world economy had ballooned to about 19%. . . . In the meantime, America’s share had dropped to about 20%.”

(Ellen I. Frost: ‘For Richer, for Poorer: The New US-Japan Relationship’; New York; 1987; p. 6).

In other words, in relation to each other:

“Japan has gotten richer and the United States has gotten poorer”;

(Preface to: Ellen I Frost: ibid.; p. ix).

In September 1980:

“A non-governmental international seminar to explore the Pacific Community idea . . . was held at the Australian National University in Canberra . . . and with it the Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference (PECC) was born. The original participants in the Canberra seminar were the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the five ASEAN* countries, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Tonga.”

(Pekka Korhonen: ‘Japan and the Pacific Free Trade Area’; London; 1994; p. 177).

*ASEAN:

“is a regional intergovernmental organisation formed by the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.”

(‘Statesman s Year-Book: 1998-1999’; op. cit.; p. 75).

Then, in November 1989:

“The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’ (APEC) was founded to devise programmes of cooperation between member nations. . . . It was institutionalised in June 1992 after a meeting in Bangkok, at which it was agreed to set up a secretariat in Singapore. APEC is now the primary vehicle for promoting open trade and practical economic cooperation in the region. . . . Its member economies had a combined GDP (Gross Domestic Product — Ed.) of over $13 trillion in 1995. . It had 19 member countries in Jan. 1998. Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea (Republuc of), Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the USA.”

(‘Statesman’s Yearbook: 1998-1999’; ibid.; p. 74).

The second meeting of APEC economic leaders in 1994 adopted:

“The Declaration of Common Resolve, whereby it was agreed to achieve the goal of free and open trade and investment in the region no later than 2010 for the industrialised economies, 2020 for the developing economies The Osaka Action Agenda, adopted by leaders in Osaka, Japan, in 1995, draws up a blueprint for implementing the commitment to this goal.”

(‘Statesman’s Yearbook: 1998-1999’; ibid.; p. 74).

and resolved that:

“APEC can be a major force for global trade liberalisation.”

(Asia-Pacific Econonic Cooperation: 1994; in: Pekka Korhonen: op. cit.; p. 168).

It is clear that any Asian Pacific regional free trade area would be dominated by Japanese imperialism:

“There is little doubt about the importance of the role which Japan will play in the Asian Pacific region. . . . As a dominant trade partner for almost all the countries in the region, as well as a major source of aid, finance and technology, its presence is already one of the vital determinants of the region’s future.”

(Shibusawa Masahide: ‘Japan and the Asian Pacific Region: Profile of Change’; London; 1984; p. 157).

In the June 1993 issue of “Atlantic Monthly,” an open letter was published from Akio Morita, Chairman of the Sony Corporation, proposing that:

“North America, Europe and Japan might be able to work together to remove barriers to the free-market system and make it more open, more inclusive and freer than it is at present.

The proposal I ask you to consider is that we begin to seek the way and means of lowering all economic barriers between North America, Europe and Japan — trade, investment, legal and so forth — in order to begin creating the nucleus of a new world economic order that would include a harmonised world business system with agreed rules and procedures that transcend national boundaries.”

(Akio Morita: Open Letter to the G7 Leaders, in: ‘Atlantic Monthly’. June 1993; p. 88).

The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI)

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is:

“The rich nations’ club…95.4% of the largest transnational corporations in the world today are headquartered in member countries of the OECD.”

(Tony Clarke: ‘The Corporate Rule Treaty: The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) seeks to consolidate Global Corporate Rule’, in: ‘Revolutionary Democracy’ Volume 4. No. 1 (April 1998); p. 4, 5).

In May 1995 the OECD instructed the organisation to prepare a Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), the aim of which would be:

“To establish a whole new set of global rules of investment that will grant transnational corporations the unrestricted ‘right’ and ‘freedom’ to buy, sell and move their operations whenever and wherever they want around the world, unfettered by government intervention or regulation.”

(Tony Clarke: ibid.; p. 4).

In short, the aim of the MAI is:

“. . to impose tight restrictions on what national governments can and cannot do in regulating their economies.”

(Tony Clarke: ibid.; p. 4).

In fact, the MAI:

“Amounts to a declaration of global corporate rule.”

(Tony Clarke: ibid.; p. 5).

Under the MAI:

“Foreign-based corporations or investors are to be accorded special rights and privileges. Not only will governments be required to provide corporations from other countries treatment that is ‘no less favourable’ than that given to companies within their own countries, but that treatment must include ‘equality of competitive opportunity.'”

(Tony Clarke: ibid.; p. 6-7).

The MAI:

“Includes a number of measures which serve to strengthen the political power of corporations.”

(Tony Clarke: ibid.; p. 8).

giving them, for instance:

“The power to directly sue governments over any breach of MAI provisions which causes (or is likely to cause) loss or damage to the investor or his investment.'”

(Tony Clarke: ibid.; p. 10).

World System Theory

As we have seen, the concepts of cosmopolitanism/globalisation form the basis of a new branch of sociology called “world system theory and pioneered by Immanuel Wallerstein:

“As Immanuel Wallerstein and others have observed, what we are now witnessing is the development of a ‘world system’, whose defining characteristic is the transoational role of capital.”

(Joseph A. Camiltari & Jim Falk: ‘The End of Sovereignty: The Politics of a Shrinking and Fragmenting World’; Aldershot; 1992; p. 77-78).

For Wallenstein:

“the ‘world economy’ is now universal, in the sense that all national states and national economies are in varying degrees integrated into its central structure.”

(Joseph A. Camilleri & Jim Falk: ibid.; p. 78).

In many respects, the view that the world is moving towards a transnational economy is a revival of Karl Kautsky’s theory of ultra-imperialism. In Lenin’s words:

“Kautsky writes that from the purely economic point of view it is not impossible that capitalism will yet go through a new phase, that of the extension of the policy of the cartels to foreign policy, the phase of ultra-imperialism, i.e., of a super-imperialism, a union of world imperialism and not struggles among imperialisms; a phase when wars shall cease under capitalism, a phase of ‘the joint exploitation of the world by internationally united finance capital’. .
Monopoly cannot . . . eliminate competition in the world market completely and for a long period of time (and this, by the by, is one of the reasons why the theory of ultra-imperialism is so absurd.”

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 86, 91).

Because capitalism develops unevenly in different enterprises, different regions and different countries, international agreements to share out markets, dependencies, can be no more than temporary:

“The only objective, i.e., real, social meaning Kautsky’s ‘theory;’ can have is that it is a most reactionary method of consoling the masses with hopes of permanent peace being possible under capitalism…Deception of the masses – there is nothing but this in Kautsky’s ‘Marxian; theory…

We will presume that these imnperialist countries form alliances against one another in order to protect and extend their possessions, their interests and their spheres of influence. . .This alliance would be an alliance of ‘internationally united finance capital’. . . . Is it conceivable’ . . that such alliances would be more than temporary?

The question only requires stating clearly enough to make it impossible for any but a negative reply to be given; for there can be no other conceivable basis under capitalism for the sharing out of spheres of influence, of interests, of colonies, etc., than a calculation of the strength of the participants, . . . their general, economic financial, military strength, etc. And the strength of these participants in the share out does not change to an equal degree, for under capitalism the development of different undertakings, trusts, branches of industry or countries cannot be even. . .

Therefore, ‘inter-imperialist’ or ‘ultra-imperialist’ alliances, in the realities of the capitalist system … are inevitably nothing more than a ‘truce in periods between wars.”

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 109-10).

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Source

Fidel Castro’s Reflections: The duty to avoid a war in Korea

Originally published in 2013

A few days ago I mentioned the great challenges humanity is currently facing. Intelligent life emerged on our planet approximately 200,000 years ago, although new discoveries demonstrate something else.

This is not to confuse intelligent life with the existence of life which, from its elemental forms in our solar system, emerged millions of years ago.

A virtually infinite number of life forms exist. In the sophisticated work of the world’s most eminent scientists the idea has already been conceived of reproducing the sounds which followed the Big Bang, the great explosion which took place more than 13.7 billion years ago.

This introduction would be too extensive if it was not to explain the gravity of an event as unbelievable and absurd as the situation created in the Korean Peninsula, within a geographic area containing close to five billion of the seven billion persons currently inhabiting the planet.

This is about one of the most serious dangers of nuclear war since the October Crisis around Cuba in 1962, 50 years ago.

In 1950, a war was unleashed there [the Korean Peninsula] which cost millions of lives. It came barely five years after two atomic bombs were exploded over the defenseless cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which, in a matter of seconds, killed and irradiated hundreds of thousands of people.

General Douglas MacArthur wanted to utilize atomic weapons against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Not even Harry Truman allowed that.

It has been affirmed that the People’s Republic of China lost one million valiant soldiers in order to prevent the installation of an enemy army on that country’s border with its homeland. For its part, the Soviet army provided weapons, air support, technological and economic aid.

I had the honor of meeting Kim Il Sung, a historic figure, notably courageous and revolutionary.

If war breaks out there, the peoples of both parts of the Peninsula will be terribly sacrificed, without benefit to all or either of them. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was always friendly with Cuba, as Cuba has always been and will continue to be with her.

Now that the country has demonstrated its technical and scientific achievements, we remind her of her duties to the countries which have been her great friends, and it would be unjust to forget that such a war would particularly affect more than 70% of the population of the planet.

If a conflict of that nature should break out there, the government of Barack Obama in his second mandate would be buried in a deluge of images which would present him as the most sinister character in the history of the United States. The duty of avoiding war is also his and that of the people of the United States.

Fidel Castro Ruz

April 4, 2013

Alliance Marxist-Leninist: The Problem of Pablo Picasso

The Problem of Pablo Picasso

(1881-1973)

CONTENTS
Introduction
Pablo Picasso — Early Years
Developing Cubism
Guernica — The Bombing
Guernica — The Painting
Impact of Picasso and Guernica on Russian Discussions Upon Socialist Realist Art
Post Second World War – ‘Becoming a communist, Picasso hoped to come out of exile’.
Conclusion
Bibliography

Introduction

Picasso poses a problem for the supporters of Marxist-Leninist view of socialist art.

What ideology – both subjectively and objectively – did he represent? What are the advocates of realism in the arts to make of Picasso’s love of gross anatomical distortions? How do most people react to his, perhaps most famous work – “Guernica” – and what does it signify? And finally, what was his relation to the Communist Party?

We contend that Picasso’s story is one of a gifted artist, who was situated at a major turning point in history, between the time of the “pure, isolated individual” and a time that history was rushing forwards because of the consolidated action of masses. At this time, artists (like everybody else) were confronted with a choice. Many took the wrong turn — towards an isolationism, towards a “renunciation of reality.” One art historian explains this as the end of approximately 400 years of art history that had been till then, steadily moving towards a goal of more and better “reality.” In its place was substituted a “form of existence surpassing and incompatible with reality,” an existence that is “ugly”:

“The great reactionary movement of the century takes effect in the realm of art as a rejection of impressionism change which, in some respects, forms a deeper incision in the history of art than all the changes of style since the Renaissance, leaving the artistic tradition of naturalism fundamentally unaffected. It is true that there had always been a swinging to and fro between formalism and anti-formalism, but the function of art being true to life and faithful to nature bad never been questioned in principle since the Middle Ages. In this respect impressionism was the climax and the end of a development which had lasted more than four hundred years. Post-impressionist art is the first to renounce all illusion of reality on principle and to express its outlook on life by the deliberate deformation of natural objects. Cubism, constructivism, futurism, expressionism, dadaism, and surrealism turn away with equal determination from nature-bound and reality-affirming impressionism.

But impressionism itself prepares the ground for this development in so far as it does not aspire to an integrating description of reality, to a confrontation of the subject with the objective world as a whole, but marks rather the beginning of that process which has been called the “annexation” of reality by art (Andre Malraux: Psychologie de l’art). Post-impressionist art can no longer be called in any sense a reproduction of nature; its relationship to nature is one of violation. We can speak at most of a kind of magic naturalism, of the production of objects which exist alongside reality, but do not wish to take its place. Confronted with the works of Braque, Chagall, Rouault, Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Salvador Dali, we always feel that, for all their differences, we are in a second world, a super-world which, however many features of ordinary reality it may still display, represents a form of existence surpassing and incompatible with this reality. Modern art is, however, anti-impressionistic in yet another respect: it is a fundamentally “ugly” art, forgoing the euphony, the fascinating forms, tones and colours, of impressionism.”

Hauser, Arnold. “The Social history of Art” — Volume 4: ‘Naturalism, Impressionism, The Film Age'”; New York; nd; p. 229-230.

We will argue that Picasso took the ‘wrong turn” – rejecting realism – only to partially correct himself under the influence of a political realisation of the horrors of war and capitalism.

Picasso forsook his earlier brilliance in works of a realistic nature, to ‘invent’ Cubism. Both Cubism, and other related art movements such as Surrealism, and Dadaism — were pained attempts to come to terms with a rapidly changing society in the midst or the wake of the catastrophes of the First World War. It was the expression of an intense “hopelessness” of man’s possibility of changing anything — for example, averting the First World War. It was also explicitly anti-rational:

“It arose from a mood of disillusionment engendered by the First World War, to which some artists reacted with irony, cynicism, and nihilisim…. the name (French for ‘hobby-horse’) was chosen by inserting a penknife at random in the pages of a dictionary, thus symbolizing the anti-rational stance of the movement. Those involved in it emphasised the illogical and the absurd, and exaggerated the role of chance in artistic creation…… its techniques involving accident and chance were of great importance to the Surrealists and … later Abstract Expressionists”;

I. Chilvers, H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977; p.147.

In the 1918 Berlin Dada Manifesto for instance, life is characterised as where:

“Life appears a simultaneous muddle of noises, colours, and spiritual rhythms, which is taken unmodified, with all the sensational screams and fevers of its reckless everyday psyche and with all its brutal reality.”

Cork, Richard “A Bitter Truth — Avant Garde Art & The Great War; London 1994; p.257.

Dadaism involved a “nihilism” [“”total rejection of current religious beliefs or morals.. A form of scepticism, involving the denial of all existence,” “Shorter Oxford English Dictionary” Volume 2; Oxford 1973; ; p.1404.]. The nihilism of these movements “not only questions the value of art but of the whole human situation. For, as it is stated in another of its manifestos, “measured by the standard of eternity, all human action is futile”:

“The historical importance of dadaism and surrealism (lies)…. in the fact that they draw attention to the blind alley …. at the end of the symbolist movement, to the sterility of a literary convention which no longer had any connection with real life …. Mallarme and the symbolists thought that every idea that occurred to them was the expression of their innermost nature; it was a mystical belief in the “magic of the word” which made them poets. The dadaists and the surrealists now doubt whether anything objective, external, formal, rationally organized is capable of expressing man at all, but they also doubt the value of such expression. It is really “inadmissible” – they think, that a man should leave a trace behind him. (Andre Breton: Les Pas perdus, 1924). Dadaism, therefore, replaces the nihilism of aesthetic culture by a new nihilism, which not only questions the value of art but of the whole human situation. For, as it is stated in one of its manifestos, “measured by the standard of eternity, all human action is futile.” (Tristn Tzara: Sept manifestes dada, 1920).”

Hauser, Arnold. “The Social history of Art” — Volume 4: ‘Naturalism, Impressionism, The Film Age'”; New York; nd; p.232-233.

Paradoxically, contrasting to the Dadaists, at least in some ways, Picasso exalted the individual. One can also see in him the epitome of the bourgeois view of an artist as someone obsessed by not only “art,” but of acting the part of “an artiste” – so that their life story is in itself a “work of art.” So Picasso said of artists that what was important was “who they are, not what they did”:

“It is not what the artist does that counts, but what he is. Cezanne would never have interested me a bit if he had lived and thought like Jacquestmile Blanche, even if the apples he had painted had been ten times as beautiful. What forces our interest is Cezanne’s anxiety, that’s Cezanne’s lesson; the torments of Van Gogh – that is the actual drama of the man. The rest is a sham.”

Berger, John.”The Success & Failure of Picasso”; New York; 1980; p.5; quoting Alfred H. Barr; “Picasso: Fifty Years of His Art”; Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1946.

Berger perceptively places Picasso’s exalted view of “artistic creativity” – as a remnant of the Romantics of the 19th century, for whom “art” was a “way of life.” Berger goes on to show that this was a form of a reaction to the bourgeois, monied “Midas” touch — a touch that changes all relations including artistic relations — to one of a mere commerce. While this exaltation of “creativity” was of value to the Romantics, in the 20th century nexus of individual versus masses, this self-centredness could be and was, hideously out of place.

Pablo Picasso – Early Years

Picasso was born in Spain, but lived and worked most of his life in Paris. His artistic mediums included sculpture, graphic arts, ceramics, poster design, as well as fine art. He was probably the most famous and prolific artist of the 20th century. As a son of a painter, he was a precocious master of line, even as a child. It is said that as a baby, is said to have been ‘lapiz’ – pencil. His work incorporated a number of styles, and he denied any logical sequence to his art development:

‘The several manners I have used in my art must not be considered as an evolution, or as steps toward an unknown ideal of painting. When I have found something to express, I have done it without thinking of the past or future. I do not believe I have used radically different elements in the different manners I have used in painting. If the subjects I have wanted to express have suggested different ways of expression, I haven’t hesitated to adopt them.’

I. Chilvers, H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977; p. 431.

At this early stage (1900-1904) Picasso expressed artistic sentiments on behalf of the under-priviliged. For example, during his “Blue Period,” he painted several examples of a realistic and moving art:

“he took his subjects from the poor and social outcasts, the predominant mood of his paintings was one of at bottom opposed to the irrationalist elements of slightly sentimentalized melancholy expressed through cold ethereal blue tones

(La Vie, Cleveland Museum of Art, 1903). He also did a number of powerful engravings in a similar vein (The Frugal Repast, d 1904).” [See below].

I. Chilvers, H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977; p. 431.

Pablo Picasso. “Woman Ironing” (La Repasseuse), 1904.

Pablo Picasso, “Le Repas Frugal,” 1904.

By 1904 Picasso now in Paris, was influenced by the Fauvist movement, as well as African sculpture and Cezanne’s works. He began to distort anatomical forms, in order to “disregard any conventional idea of beauty” (“Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (MOMA, New York, 1906-7)[ See below]. At that time, these results were not viewed favourably, and “d’Avignon” was not publicly exhibited until 1937. But it marked the start of Cubism, which Picasso began with Braque and Gris from 1907 up to the First World War.

Pablo Picasso, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” 1907.

Developing Cubism

So what was Cubism? It was a movement begun by Picasso with Braque, and later Gris, and was named after their tendency to use cubic motifs, as can be seen above:

“Movement in painting and sculpture, … was originated by Picasso and Braque. They worked so closely during this period – ‘roped together like mountaineers’ in Braque’s memorable phrase – that at times it is difficult to differentiate their hands. The movement was broadened by Juan Gris,…he name originated with the critic Louis Vauxcelles (following a mot by Matisse), who, in a review of the Braque exhibition in the paper Gil Blas, 14 November 1908, spoke of ‘cubes’ and later of ‘bizarreries cubiques.'”

I.Chilvers, H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977; p. 144.

The cubists rejected an “apparent” reality to be conveyed by normal rules of perspective and modelling. They aimed to show all sides of reality, by displaying a moving history of how objects look over time, and from simultaneously observed but differing, vantage points. It was a “cerebral” exercise therefore, and it rejected any simple notion of how “an object looked”:

“Cubism made a radical departure from the idea of art as the imitation of nature that had dominated European painting and sculpture since the Renaissance. Picasso and Braque abandoned traditional notions of perspective, foreshortening, and modelling, and aimed to represent solidity and volume in a two-dimensional plane without converting the two-dimensional canvas illusionistically into a three-dimensional picture-space. In so far as they represented real objects, their aim was to depict them as they are known and not as they partially appear at a particular moment and place. For this purpose many different aspects of the object might be depicted simultaneously; the forms of the object were analysed into geometrical planes and these were recomposed from various simultaneous points of view into a combination of forms. To this extent Cubism was and claimed to be realistic, but it was a conceptual realism rather than an optical and Impressionistic realism. Cubism is the outcome of intellectualized rather than spontaneous vision. “

I. Chilvers, H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977; p. 144.

As a movement, following its’ birth with “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”, it rapidly evolved into other movements — but it was one of the key sources of abstractionism in art:

“The harbinger of the new style was Picasso’s celebrated picture Les Demoiselles d`Avignon (MOMA, New York, 1907), with its angular and fractured forms. It is customary to divide the Cubism of Picasso and Braque into two phases-Analytical’ and ‘Synthetic’. In the first and more austere phase, which lasted until 1912, forms were analysed into predominantly geometrical structures and colour was extremely subdued-usually virtually monochromatic – so as not to be a distraction. In the second phase colour became much stronger and shapes more decorative, and elements such as stencilled lettering and pieces of newspaper were introduced into paintings…Cubism, as well as being one of the principal sources for abstract art, was infinitely adaptable, giving birth to numerous other movements, among them Futurism, Orphism, Purism, and Vorticism…”

I. Chilvers, H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977; p. 144.

But all these new movements propound a view of life that is “form-destroying.” Picasso thus easily flips in and out of several art movements, all the time exploring ever more “un-real” and deconstructed forms. At the same time, he is intent upon eroding any sense of a “unity” – whether of personality, of styles, view of the world etc. All reflect the deep contradictions of 20th century capitalism:

“Cubism and constructivism, on the one side, and expressionism and surrealism, on the other, embody strictly formal and form-destroying tendencies respectively which now appear for the first time side by side in such sharp contradiction. […]

Picasso, who shifts from one of the different stylistic tendencies to the other most abruptly, is at the same time the most representative artist of the present age.

Picasso‘s eclecticism signifies the deliberate destruction of the unity of the personality; his imitations are protests against the cult of originality; his deformation of reality, which is always clothing itself in new forms, in order the more forcibly to demonstrate their arbitrariness, is intended, above all, to confirm the thesis that “nature and art are two entirely dissimilar phenomena.” Picasso turns himself into a conjurer, a juggler, a parodist, [….]

And he disavows not only romanticism, but even the Renaissance, which, with its concept of genius and its idea of the unity of work and style, anticipates romanticism to some extent. He represents a complete break with individualism and subjectivism, the absolute denial of art as the expression of an unmistakable personality. His works are notes and commentaries on reality; they make no claim to be regarded as a picture of a world and a totality, as a synthesis and epitome of existence. Picasso compromises the artistic means of expression by his indiscriminate use of the different artistic styles just as thoroughly and wilfully as do the surrealists by their renunciation of traditional forms. The new century is full of such deep antagonisms, the unity of its outlook on life is so profoundly menaced, that the combination of the furthest extremes, the unification of the greatest contradictions, becomes the main theme, often the only theme, of its art.”

Hauser, Arnold. “The Social history of Art — Naturalism, Impressionism, The Film Age. Volume 4”; New York; nd; p. 233-234.

Since Picasso is so adept technically, he can continue to simply adopt and then drop styles as he pleases. In 1917 Picasso went to Italy, where he was impressed by Classicism, and incorporated some features of so-called “Monumental Classicism” into the work of the 1920’s (Mother and Child), but he also became involved with Surrealism, and with Andre Breton. The surrealists were interested in “irrationalist elements, and exaltation of chance, and equally to the direct realistic reproduction of dream or subconscious material.” I. Chilvers, H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977; p.431.

During this time, he explored images of the Minotaur, the half man half beast drawn from Cretan mythology. Now, the Spanish Civil War erupted. This led to his most famous work, Guernica (Centro Cultural Reina Sofia, Madrid, 1937), which was produced for the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1937 to express horror and revulsion at the destruction by bombing of the Basque capital Guernica during the civil war (1936-9).

By this time, Picasso had already become a very rich man already:

“Picasso was rich. Dealers began to buy his work in 1906. By 1909 he employed a aid with apron and cap to wait at table. In 1912, when he painted a picture on a whitewashed wall in Provence, his dealer thought it was worthwhile demolishing the wall and sending the whole painted piece intact to Paris to be remounted by experts on a wooden panel. In 1919 Picasso moved into a large flat in one of the most fashionable quarters of Paris. In 1930 he bought the seventeenth-century Chateau de Boisgeloup as an alternative residence. From the age of twenty-eight Picasso was free from money worries. From the age of thirty-eight he was wealthy. From the age of sixty-five he has been a millionaire.”

Berger, John.”The Success & Failure of Picasso”; New York; 1980; p.5.

Guernica – The Bombing

On 26 April 1937, the German air force was asked by General Franco to bomb the city of Guernica. This city was the ancient heart of the Basque nation, an oppressed nation within the multi-national state of Spain. It had resisted the Francoite fascists, and Franco was determined to subdue it. The city had no defences, and no military importance. The correspondent of ‘The Times” reported on the destruction:

“Guernica, the most ancient town of the Basques and the centre of their cultural tradition was completely destroyed yesterday afternoon by insurgent air raiders. The bombardment of the open town far behind the lines occupied precisely three hours and quarter, during which a powerful fleet of aeroplanes consisting of three German types, Junkers and Heinkel bombers and Heinkel fighters did not cease unloading on the town bombs. And incendiary projectiles. The fighters, meanwhile, plunged low from above the centre of the town to machine gun those of the civil population who had taken refuge in the fields.

The whole of Guernica was soon in flames, except the historic Casa de Juntas, with its rich archives of the Basque race, where the ancient Basque Parliament used to sit. The famous oak of Guernica, the dried old stump of 600 years and the new shoots of this century, was also untouched. Here the kings of Spain used to take the oath to respect the democratic rights (fueros) of Vizcaya and in return received a promise of allegiance as suzerains with the democratic title of Senor, not Rey Vizcaya.”

Antony Blunt. “Picasso’s Guernica”; Toronto; 1969; Oxford & Toronto, p.7-8.

Perhaps however the real measure of the horror is best given by the first eye-witness account, from a priest — Father Alberto de Onaindia:

“We reached the outskirts of Guernica just before five o’clock. The streets were busy with the traffic of market day. Suddenly we heard the siren, and trembled. People mere running about in all directions, abandoning everything they possessed, some hurrying into the shelters, others running into the hills. Soon an enemy airplane appeared … and when he was directly over the center he dropped three bombs. Immediately airwards we saw a squadron of seven planes, followed a little later by six more, and this in turn by a third squadron of five more. And Guernica was seized by a terrible panic.

I left the car by the side of the road and we took refuge in a storm drain. The water came up to our ankles. From our hiding place we could see everything that happened without being seen. The airplanes came low, flying at two hundred meters. As soon as we could leave our shelter, we ran into the woods, hoping to put a safe distance between us and the enemy. But the airmen saw us and went after us. The leaves hid us. As they did not know exactly where we were, they aimed their machineguns in the direction they thought we were traveling. We heard the bullets ripping through branches and the sinister sound of splintering wood. The milicianos and I followed the flight patterns of the airplanes, and we made a crazy journey through the trees, trying to avoid them. Meanwhile, women, children, and old men were falling in heaps, like flies, and everywhere we saw lakes of blood.

I saw an old peasant standing alone in a field: a machine-gun bullet killed him. For more than an hour these planes, never more than a few hundred meters in altitude, dropped bomb after bomb on Guernica. The sound of the explosions and of the crumbling houses cannot be imagined. Always they traced on the air the same tragic flight pattern, as they flew all over the streets of Guernica. Bombs fell by the thousands. Later we saw bomb craters. Some were sixteen meters in diameter and eight meters deep.

The airplanes left around seven o’clock, and then there came another wave of them, this time flying at an immense altitude. They were dropping incendiary bombs on our martyred city. The new bombardment lasted thirty-five minutes, sufficient to transform the town into an enormous furnace. Even then I realized the terrible purpose of this new act of vandalism. They were dropping incendiary bombs to convince tie world that the Basques had torched their own city. The destruction went on altogether for two hour. and forty-five minutes. When the bombing was over the people left their shelters. I saw no one crying. Stupor was written on all their faces. Eyes fixed on Guernica, we were completely incapable of believing what we saw.”

In Martin, Russell. “Picasso’s War. The Destruction of Guernica, and the Masterpiece that Changed the World”; 2002, New York; p. 40-42.

Colonel Wolfram von Richthofen, commanded the Condor Legion, and planned that first blast bombs would destroy all city-centre buildings; then that the townspeople would be strafed with machine-gun fire; and finally, that incendiary bombs would set fire to the rubble. Four days later, he reported his success:

“Gernika literally levelled to the ground. Attack carried out with 250-kilogram and incendiary bombs-about one-third of the latter. When the first Junker squadron arrived, there was smoke everywhere already [from von Moreau’s first assault]; no, body could identify the targets of roads, bridge, and suburbs, and they just dropped everything right into the center. The 250s toppled houses and destroyed the water mains. The incendiaries now could spread and become effective. The material of the houses: tile roofs, wooden porches, and half-timbering resulted in complete annihilation…. Bomb craters can still be seen in the streets, simply terrific. Town completely blocked off for at least 24 hours, perfect conditions for a great victory, if only the troops had followed through.”

In Martin, Russell. “Picasso’s War. The Destruction of Guernica, and the Masterpiece that Changed the World”; 2002, New York; p. 42-43.

Russell Martin points to the innovative strategy that was utlized of air-raid induced terror:

“The three-hour campaign had been efficient, accurate, highly effective, and it was precisely what was proscribed in German military strategist M.K.L. Dertzen’s Grundsdtze der Wehrpolitik, which had been published two years before and which von Richthofen had taken very much to heart: “If cities are destroyed by flames, if women and children are victims of suffocating gases, if the population in open cities far from the front perish due to bombs dropped from planes, it will be impossible for the enemy to continue the war. Its citizens will plead for an immediate end to hostilities.”

In Martin, Russell. “Picasso’s War. The Destruction of Guernica, and the Masterpiece that Changed the World”; 2002, New York; p. 42-43.

Guernica – The Painting

Picasso had not been especially political up to this time, although as a youth in Barcelona the vigorous anarchist movements there had influenced him. But with the onset of the Spanish Civil War, Picasso took sides. In May 1937 he made his position clear in a public statement:

“The Spanish struggle is the fight of reaction against the people, against freedom. My whole life as an artist has been nothing more than a continuous struggle against reaction and the death of art. How could anybody think for a moment that I could be in agreement with reaction and death? When the rebellion began, the legally elected and democratic republican government of Spain appointed me director of the Prado Museum, a post which I immediately accepted. In the panel on which I am working which I shall call Guernica, and in all my recent works of art, I clearly express my abhorrence of the military caste which has sunk Spain in an ocean of pain and death…”

Barr, Alfred. “Picasso: Fifty Years of His Art”; New York; 1946; p.202; cited by Blunt A; Ibid; p. 9.

“‘No: painting is not there just to decorate the walls of a flat. It is a means of waging offensive and defensive war against the enemy.”
Cited at: http://www.tamu.edu/mocl/picasso/tour/t05c.html

He immediately did a pair of etchings entitled Sueho y mentira de Franco (‘Dream and Lie of Franco) which he issued with an accompanying poem.

Picasso, “Dream and Lie of Franco,” 1937.

In January 1937, the Republican elected Government, invited Picasso to paint a mural for the Spanish Pavilion in the International Exhibition of Paris in 1938. Following the bombing of Guernica, Picasso worked in a frenzy completing the huge work in ten days.

The cover of “Alliance Marxist-Leninist” Issue 52 shows the painting. But for a larger view go here:

Web-site for Guernica at: http://www.arts.adelaide.edu.au/personal/DHart/Images/WarArt/Picasso/Guernica/Guernica.JPG

Picasso, “Guernica,” 1937.

Blunt describes the large canvas as follows:

“The painting is on canvas and measures 11 ft. 6 in. by 25 ft. 8 in. It is almost monochrome, that is to say, it is executed in various shades of grey, varying from a completely neutral tint to slightly purplish and bluish greys at one extreme, and brownish greys at the other.

The scene takes place in darkness, in an open space surrounded by schematically indicated buildings, which presumably stand for a public square in the town of Guernica. At the top is a strange lamp in the form of an eye, with an electric bulb as the iris.

The actors in the scene fall into two groups. The active protagonists are three animals – the bull, the wounded horse, and the winged bird just visible in the left background-and two human beings, the dead soldier, and the woman above and to the right, who leans out of a window and holds out a lamp to illuminate the whole stage. They are accompanied by a sort of Greek chorus of three women: the screaming mother carrying a dead baby on the left, the woman rushing in from the right, and above her one falling in a house which is collapsing in flames.
These figures – human and animal – and the symbolism attached to them were not evolved at a single blow but have a long and complicated history, not only in the work of Picasso himself but in European art of earlier periods.”

Blunt, Antony, “Picasso’s Guernica”; Toronto; 1969 OUP, p.13

Apart from a general sense of horror -what does it all mean? What are the bull and the horse doing here so prominently?

“As regards the meaning of the picture, Picasso has only supplied a slight clue about the central symbols. The horse, he said in an interview, represents the people, and the bull brutality and darkness. When pressed by his interlocutor to say whether he meant that the bull stood for Fascism, he refused to agree and stuck to his original statement. … These indications are tantalizingly slender, but it is possible, by a study of Picasso’s previous work, particularly in the 1930’s, to deduce more about the symbols used in Guernica and about the artist’s intentions in general. The central theme, the conflict between bull and horse, is one which has interested the artist all his life…”

Blunt, Antony, “Picasso’s Guernica”; Toronto; 1969; p.14.

Prior to Guernica, Picasso had long been depicting battles between good and evil, where the Minotaur takes a prominent place. But these symbolic interpretations are much less important than the overall first impact – of the weeping women. There can be little doubt that any spectator who is first shown this picture more likely reacts immediately to the wailing women – one with an obviously dead child, one in a burning house, and the dead or gravely injured soldier holding a weapon who is being trampled by a terrified horse. The general effect is one of a terrible searing scene. Moreover, an original draft had an equally potent image – a clenched fist:

“In…the drawing of 9 May…the main interest is now focused on the dead soldier, who fills the whole left-hand part of the foreground, lying with his head on the right, his left hand clasping a broken sword,” his right arm raised and his fist clenched. That is to say, Picasso has taken the theme of the raised arm with clenched fist, which in the drawing played a quite minor part in a corner of the composition, and has given it a completely new significance by attaching it to the central figure of the composition. The arm of the soldier now forms a strong vertical, which is emphasized by the axis of the lamp, continued downwards in a line cutting across the body of the horse, and by another vertical line drawn arbitrarily to the left of the arm. The vertical strip thus formed is made the basis of the geometrical scheme on which the composition is built up.”

Blunt, Antony: “Picasso’s Guernica”; Toronto; 1969 OUP, p.39.

The drawing can be seen at: http://www.arts.adelaide.edu.au/personal/DHart/Images/WarArt/Picasso/Guernica/DoraMaarsPhotos/State1-11May1937.JPG

Picasso, “Guernica,” original sketch, 1937.

However Picasso then removed the raised arm. Why? What we can be sure of is that at that time Picasso was not associated with the Communist party, and the symbol of the clenched fist was and is – an explicitly communist one. Therefore, the overall sense of the painting remains one of a horror — and not that of a RESISTANCE to the hells of war.

And naturally, the “distortions of forms” – the late Picasso speciality – remains. But — having said that – what impact has the painting had on the numerous people who have seen it or its reproduction? An interesting experience is to watch those who are looking at this gigantic painting – they are mesmerised and yet, horrified at the same time.

There is absolutely no doubt that the picture has become iconic in its symbolic rejection of war and the brutal inhumanity of war.

For those who might still be sceptical of this viewpoint, it should be remembered that during the prelude to the inhumane, and illegal 2003 war against Iraq, a tapestry copy of “Guernica” – that hangs in the foyer at the United Nations HQ at New York, was shrouded during televised interviews.

Why does it seem that this painting evokes such resonant feelings? After all, it is in its form-distortions – anti-realistic. In fact “abstract” painting rarely evokes a “positive” audience reaction. Recall for instance the furore as the “critics” – the servants of the capitalist classes waxed eloquent about the piles of bricks at the Tate – the public roared its’ incomprehension and its’ disapproval. But this has not ever happened with “Guernica.” Why?

It is possible that people have become simply more visually sophisticated than they used to be – under the influence of mass printings. Or possibly the knowledge of what happened at Guernica is so widespread – that people can make a quick connection between the intent of the painting – despite the distortion of forms. But, a third point has to be made. That is that perhaps despite the bias of the painter, whose loyalty to “form-distortion” was so deep – it is in fact pretty “realistic.” The horse screaming in agony is – evidently just that. The women howling – can be heard. The heat on the woman burning the bomber house – is felt scorching us. The sounds of the horse trampling on the dead soldier – are bone-jarringly “real.”

Maybe Picasso was a “cubist.” But he left his intellectualised system to one side when he painted this picture.

Picasso also made other great paintings that attacked war, [See “The Charnel House”; MOMA, New York, 1945] and the later Korean War [“Korean women and children being butchered by white men – Massacre in Korea” – see below:]

Pablo Picasso, “Massacre in Korea,” 1951.

All show marked “form-distortion,” but they nonetheless, do convey a clear message. In fact, the non-realistic pictures do resonate. The editors of the “Oxford Dictionary,” claim that:

“In treating such themes Picasso universalized the emotional content by an elaboration of the techniques of expression which had been developed through his researches into Cubism.”

I. Chilvers, H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977; p. 144.

Clearly, these works are not ‘realist’ in any usual meaning, but their meaning is surely explicit. So — are these propagandist posters, or are they art? We would argue that they are more within the realm of progressive propaganda. But, the boundary line is certainly very narrow.

Impact of Picasso and Guernica on Russian Discussions Upon Socialist Realist Art

A mythology prevails, that there was no discussion – nor knowledge of Western art movements in the socialist years of the USSR (up to 1953). But this is patently false, as there is absolutely no doubt that the Russian artistic scene, was affected by currents in the West. Indeed, the height of knowledge and sensible debates about these various movements is the lie to the general bourgeois line that “there was no debate” and “purely dictatorship” in the USSR. Artistic events in the West were treated very seriously and openly. Undoubtedly post-Second World War there was a renewed debate about the principles of “Socialist Realism”:

“At the ninth plenum of the orgkomitet (Organising Committee of the Union of Soviet Artists) held May 1945, some of speakers from the floor brought up the question of innovation in painting, suggesting a new openness to questions of form…Even court painters and official spokesmen of socialist realism appeared with new faces. The critic V Gaposhkin made a visit to Alexandr Gerasimov’s studio and praised highly his unfinished painting of “A Russian Communal Bath’ – a major composition of female nudes with no ideological pretext (plate 230).

That the mood among some artists and critics, was distinctly rebellious may be may be gleaned from a lecture, entitled ‘The Problem of the ‘Impressionism & the problem of the Kartina’, delivered by Nikolai Punin to the Leningrad artists’ union on 13 April 1946 – and from the reaction to it.

Punin’s address was an attempt to install impressionism as the basis for the work of Soviet painters; it amounted not only to a revision of the attitude to impressionism which had been imposed in the art press after the debates of 1939-40, but also to a rejection of some of the entrenched principles of socialist realism. He stressed the variety apparent in the painting of the impressionists extolled them as ‘honest’ and ‘contemporary’. He criticised the characterisation of impressionism as some kind of a system…”

Cullerne Bown, Matthew. “Socialist Realist Painting”; New Haven; 1998; p.223.

Picasso and his evident partisanship, as expressed in “Guernica” became a part of the debate in the USSR:

“At the discussion on 26 April the artist Petr Mazepov pointed out that impressionism led to the formalist art of cubism and fauvism, in which ‘there is no social struggle, the class soul, the party soul, the great soul of the people is absent’. At this point Mazepov was interrupted from the floor: ‘And Picasso?’ ‘And Cezanne?” And ” Guernica, he’s a Communist, a party member.” A little later Mazepov was interrupted again: ‘An artist doesn’t have to take up a proletarian position to express his idea’. [….]

Over the course of both days’ debate, Punin received broad support from well-known Leningrad painters such as Pakulin and Traugot, and from voices from the floor. He summed up on 3 May: ‘If we take cubism or futurism, if we take the work of Picasso, then I personally do not see any formalism in this.’”

Cullerne Bown, Matthew. “Socialist Realist Painting”; New Haven; 1998; p.223.

Punin’s denial of “formalism: in the works of cubism, or futurism – is untenable. Punin was using the works of the 1930’s of Picasso, that had already mutated away from “non-realistic” painting. Actually, it is very telling that the argument “What about Guernica?” – could be used in the midst of this discussion. Even the staunchest supporter of the principles of socialist realism in the USSR, simply had to concede that the painting had emotional power. But the use of Picasso’s open allegiance, by various revisionist sections of the French Communist party even more blatantly.

Post Second World War – ‘Becoming a communist, Picasso hoped to come out of exile’.

Already, his painting of Guernica had shown that Picasso was a republican. During the war years, he stayed in Nazi occupied Paris. On the liberation of Europe, Picasso was to show very publicly his allegiance to the Communist party:

“On October 4 1944, less than six weeks after the liberation of Paris, Pablo Picasso, then 63, joined the French Communist party. To his surprise, the news covered more than half of the front page of the next day’s L’Humanité, the party’s official newspaper, overshadowing reports of the war…….. “Shortly after, in an interview for L’Humanité, Picasso claimed that he had always fought, through the weapons of his art, like a true revolutionary. But he also said that the experience of the second world war had taught him that it was not sufficient to manifest political sympathies under the veil of mythologising artistic expression.

‘I have become a communist because our party strives more than any other to know and to build the world, to make men clearer thinkers, more free and more happy. I have become a communist because the communists are the bravest in France, in the Soviet Union, as they are in my own country, Spain. While I wait for the time when Spain can take me back again, the French Communist party is a fatherland for me. In it I find again all my friends – the great scientists Paul Langevin and Frédéric Joliot-Curie, the great writers Louis Aragon and Paul Eluard, and so many of the beautiful faces of the insurgents of Paris. I am again among brothers.'”

Five days after joining the party Picasso appeared at a ceremony at the Père Lachaise cemetery, organised as a joint memorial for those killed during the Commune of 1871 and in the Nazi occupation of Paris.”

Gertje R Utley. “Picasso was one of the most valued members of the French Communist party – until a portrait of Stalin put him at the centre of an ideological row”. October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

Elsewhere he rhetorically asked:

“Have not the Communists been the bravest in France, in the Soviet Union, and in my own Spain? How could I have hesitated? The fear to commit myself? But on the contrary I have never felt freer, never felt more complete. And then I have been so impatient to find a country again: I have always been an exile, now I am no longer one: whilst waiting for Spain to be able to welcome me back, the French Communist Party have opened their arms to me, and I have found there all whom I respect most, the greatest thinkers, the greatest poets, and all the faces of the Resistance fighters in Paris whom I saw and were so beautiful during those August days; again I am among my brothers.”

Berger, John.”The Success & Failure of Picasso”; New York; 1980; p.173.

His allegiance extended to numerous art-related activities. His efforts were recognised by a Stalin Prize, for his famous Poster for Peace, using the image of a dove [See below].

“He also presided over the infamous gathering of the Comité Directeur du Front National des Arts, which drew up the list of artists to be purged for collaborationist activities during the occupation. In 1950 he was awarded the Stalin prize for his involvement in the Mouvement de la Paix, for which he had designed the emblem of a dove. The movement, … was inaugurated in Wroclaw under the aegis of Andrey Zhdanov, secretary of the Soviet central committee.”

Gertje R Utley. Ibid;. October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

In addition he was lavish with his money:

“he generously donated time and money to the FCP and associated organisations. He marched with the Front National des Intellectuels and the Front National Universitaire and accepted honorary positions on boards and in organisations. His contributions mostly took the form of paintings donated for sale. In November 1956 alone, the dealer Kahnweiler wrote that he gave on Picasso’s behalf a cheque for FFr3m for Christmas gifts for Enfants des Fusillés de la Résistance, FFr500,000 for the Comité de la Paix, FFr300,000 for the Patriote de Toulouse, FFr750,000 more for the children of war victims and FFr3m (half a million more than the previous year) for a yearly Communist party event. (To give some perspective to these figures, Chrysler bought Picasso’s Le Charnier in 1954 for FFr5m.) “

Gertje R Utley. Ibid;. October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

So upon Stalin’s death, it was not un-expected that he would be asked to paint his picture. He had pervasively been asked – on Stalin’s 70th birthday – and refused. This time he agreed. However an orchestrated campaign of vilification suggested that the portrait was “an affront to Stalin” as it “neglected to reflect the emotions of the people.” Picasso had wanted a portrait of “a man of the people.” The French Communist Party was of course under revisionist control at this time. As we have previously described, the revisionists wished to perpetuate a “cult of personality.” Picasso had reverted to a “realistic” style, at a most inconvenient time for them, and in a most inconvenient manner. He “had to be rebuked”:

“In 1953…Stalin died on March 5. Aragon and editor Pierre Daix were preparing an issue of the communist journal “Les Lettres Françaises” when the news broke. Aragon immediately sent a telegram to Picasso. … requesting a drawing of Stalin. Daix and Gilot knew that Picasso, who until then had successfully foiled any hope that he would paint a portrait of Stalin, could not refuse this time. The artist’s homage for Stalin’s 70th birthday in 1949 had been nothing more than a drawing of a glass raised to the dictator’s health, which had shocked the party faithful with its breezy caption, “Staline à ta santé.” [….]

He seems to have used old newspaper photographs as a reference. The portrait shows the young Stalin, face framed by thick, cropped hair, mouth partly hidden under a bushy moustache. The eyes under the strong eyebrows are those of a dreamer and offset by the prominent jawline. Picasso told Geneviève Laporte. [….] that he had wanted to show Stalin as a man of the people, without his uniform and decorations. [….] Aragon and Daix were relieved to find the portrait to their liking. Daix opted for the neutral caption “Staline par Pablo Picasso, March 8 1953”. [….]

The first negative reaction came from the employees of France Nouvelle and L’Humanité, the two papers that shared the same building as Les Lettres françaises, who were appalled by what they considered an affront to Stalin. Daix suspected – correctly, as it turned out – that this was instigated by the party leaders, who saw publication of the portrait as an incursion against the personality cult, and by Auguste Lecur, hardline party secretary, who welcomed this opportunity to chastise Aragon and Les Lettres françaises for the relative independence they claimed. [….]

From the moment the paper appeared at kiosks on March 12, the editorial offices were flooded with outraged calls. On March 18 1953, a damaging communiqué appeared in L’Humanité from the secretariat of the French Communist party, “categorically” disapproving publication of the portrait “by comrade Picasso”.  [….] Aragon was obliged to publish the communiqué in the following issue of Les Lettres françaises, as well as a self-criticism in L’Humanité. The major reproach [….] was that the portrait neglected to reflect the emotions of the public – “the love that the working class feel for the regretted comrade Stalin and for the Soviet Union” – and that it did not do justice to the moral, spiritual, and intellectual personality of Stalin.“

Gertje R Utley. Ibid;. October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

But Picasso refused to rise to the bait, and refused to attack the party.

“Picasso, besieged by journalists eager to have him admit that his portrait sought to mock Stalin, refuted any such suggestion. nor did the attacks against him entice Picasso to disparage the party, as some had hoped. “Despite various reports that quoted Picasso as saying that one did not criticise the flowers that were sent to the funeral or the tears that were shed, Gilot [Picassos’ then lover — editor] recalled a more detached attitude. According to her, Picasso replied that aesthetic matters were debatable, that therefore it was the party’s right to criticise him and that he saw no need to politicise the issue. “You’ve got the same situation in the party as in any big family,” he said. “There is always some damn fool to stir up trouble, but you have to put up with him.”

Gertje R Utley. Ibid;. October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

 

In private, Picasso gave a rather amusing — if somewhat coarse — attack on the bureaucratic slavish mentality behind this imbroglio:

“In conversation with Daix, who was sent by Aragon to appease him, Picasso speculated:

“Can you imagine if I had done the real Stalin, such as he has become, with his wrinkles, his pockets under the eyes, his warts. A portrait in the style of Cranach! Can you hear them scream? ‘He has disfigured Stalin! He has aged Stalin!'” He continued: “And then too, I said to myself, why not a Stalin in heroic nudity? Yes, but, Stalin nude, and what about his virility? If you take the pecker of the classical sculptor… So small… But, come on, Stalin, he was a true male, a bull. So then, if you give him the phallus of a bull, and you’ve got this little Stalin behind his big thing they’ll cry: But you’ve made him into a sex maniac! A satyr!

“Then if you are a true realist you take your tape measure and you measure it all properly. That’s worse, you made Stalin into an ordinary man. And then, as you are ready to sacrifice yourself, you make a plaster cast of your own thing. Well, it’s even worse. What, you dare take yourself for Stalin! After all, Stalin, he must have had an erection all the time, just like the Greek statues… Tell me, you who knows socialist realism, is that Stalin with an erection or without an erection?”

When in the summer of 1954 (after Stalin’s death) Picasso, thinking aloud, asked Daix: “Don’t you think that soon they will find that my portrait is too nice?” On another occasion, he reflected: “Fortunately I drew the young Stalin. The old one never existed. Only for the official painters.”

Gertje R Utley. Ibid;. October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

What is even more interesting — is that despite his “saison en enfer” (season in hell) — Picasso never recanted his allegiance to the party. Even with the social-imperialists attacks on both Hungary (1956) or Czechoslovakia (1968):

“Picasso later called the year 1953 his “saison en enfer” — his season in hell. He admitted to some friends how shaken he had been by the accusations and humiliations of the scandal. The year is widely believed to signal the end of Picasso’s political commitment. Yet while his cooperation with the party was never again as close as it had been in the years 1944-53, his commitment did not stop. He continued to produce drawings for the press and for poster designs, made supportive appearances at party events, and readily signed petitions and protest declarations initiated by the party. He also never discontinued his financial support. While many left because of the party’s attitude during the Hungarian uprising in 1956, Picasso reaffirmed his loyalty. In an interview with the art critic Carlton Lake in July 1957, he once again confirmed his belief in communism and his intention never to leave the party. In 1962 he was awarded the Lenin prize. In August 1968, speaking with friends, he deplored the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, but failed to do so publicly. At the end of that year, he refused once again to speak out against his long-held political beliefs.‘

Gertje R Utley. Ibid;. October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

He clearly believed the lies of the revisionist Khruschev, given out at this so-called “secret speech.” But he asked whether “And the workers, are they still masters of their factories, and the peasants, the owners of their land?”:

“After Khrushchev’s “secret speech” at the 20th congress of the Soviet Union’s Communist party, in February 1956, in which he reported on the crimes of Stalin’s tyranny, it became impossible for anybody to claim ignorance. Picasso apparently was appalled: “While they asked you to do ever more for the happiness of men… they hung this one and tortured that one. And those were innocents. Will this change? Picasso’s response to detrimental news from the Soviet Union was: “And the workers, are they still masters of their factories, and the peasants, the owners of their land? Well then, everything else is secondary – the only thing that matters is to save the revolution”.

Gertje R Utley. Ibid;. October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

His answer was the workers were still in charge. Of course he was tragically wrong. But then – he was an artist, albeit a flawed one, always twisting away from reality. In the end he was somewhat “straightened” by his late found political allegiance. But – he was still only an artist – and not a political theorist or leader of the working classes. What in an artist is excusable, is inexcusable in those who claim to be “leaders of the vanguard of the working class.” Therefore we will agree, if we are charged that we view Picasso with a benign eye. We would simply counter that this is the same “benign eye” that Marx turned on artists in general, saying of the poet Ferdinand Freiligarth for instance:

“Write Freiligarth a friendly letter. nor need you be over-careful of paying him compliments, for poets, even the best of them, are all plus au moins [more or less], courtisanes and il faut les cajoler, pour les faire chanter [one must cajole them to make them sing]…

A poet, whatever he may be as an homme (man), needs applause and ADMIRATION. This I believe, peculiar to the genre as such. you should not forget the difference between a “poet” and a “critic.'”

Marx to Joseph Weydemeyer, January 16, 1852. Volume 39: Collected Works; Moscow; 1983; p.8.

See also Marx and Engels on Art at: http://ml-review.ca/aml/SocialistArt/Final-ME_LASSALLE.htm

Equally, we cannot accept the line of John Berger, who writes:

“But as an artist with all his powers he was nevertheless wasted.”

Oddly, Berger writes this despite having already pointed out that Picasso had renewed himself by joining the party:

“As a result of Picasso’s joining the Communist Party and taking part in the peace movement, his fame spread even wider than before. His name was quoted in all the socialist countries. His poster of the peace dove was seen on millions of walls and expressed the hopes of all but a handful of the people of the world. The dove became a true symbol: not so much as a result of Picasso’s power as an artist (the drawing of the dove is evocative but superficial), but rather as a result of the power of the movement which Picasso was serving. It needed a symbol and it claimed Picasso’s drawing. That this happened is something of which Picasso can be rightly proud. He contributed positively to the most important struggle of our time. He made further posters and drawings. He lent his name and reputation again and again to encourage others to protest against the threat of nuclear war. He was in a position to use his art as a means of influencing people politically, and, in so far as he was able, he chose to do this consciously and intelligently. I cannot believe that he was in any way mistaken or that he chose the wrong political path.”

Berger, John.”The Success & Failure of Picasso”; New York; 1980; p.173-5.

Well, Picasso bloomed anew with the power of the peoples’ vision. How can Berger recognising this, then say that Picasso was wasted artistically? In the last period of his life, apart from the posters and the variations on the dove of peace he did, Picasso really only painted upon the ceramics made by others. In contrast to Berger, we might suggest that it was his political artistic work, that kept him “artistically alive.”

Conclusion

We argue that Picasso ultimately was on the side of the working classes. A “champagne socialist” he may have been – but he did not need to do what he did. As to the worth of his art – where he retained realist images and forms, he showed a power that people understood. But he was constantly reverting to decadent forms and images that placed at an immediate distance between the people and his art. At his best, he moved people.

And in that troubling work – “Guernica” – he undoubtedly has moved and affected generations who have seen it. Again, it is patently, not a piece of “socialist art,” but despite its obvious anti-realist forms, it conveys a very real, and realistic message: “Down With War!”

Bibliography

Used In this article
Berger, John.”The Success & Failure of Picasso”; New York; 1980;
Blunt, Antony. “Picasso’s Guernica”; Toronto; 1969.
Chilvers, I; H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977;
Cork, Richard “A Bitter Truth — Avant Garde Art & The Great War; London 1994; Cullerne Bown, Matthew. “Socialist Realist Painting”; New Haven;1998;
Hauser, Arnold. “The Social history of Art” — Volume 4: ‘Naturalism, Impressionism, The Film Age'”; New York; nd;
Martin, Russell. “Picasso’s War. The Destruction of Guernica, and the Masterpiece that Changed the World”; 2002, New York.
Marx to Joseph Weydemeyer, January 16, 1852. Volume 39: Collected Works; Moscow; 1983.
Utley, Gertje R. “Picasso was one of the most valued members of the French Communist party – until a portrait of Stalin put him at the centre of an ideological row.” October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

Recommended:
Utley Gertje R “Picasso: The Communist Years”; Yale University Press, 2000.

Websites (NB: All web addresses were correct at time of writing).
“On Line Picasso Project” – a very comprehensive site on Picasso and his works. http://www.tamu.edu/mocl/picasso/tour/t60.html

Art and war – a wonderful site: http://www.arts.adelaide.edu.au/personal/DHart/ResponsesToWar/Art/StudyGuides/Picasso.html

Source

V.I. Lenin to American Workers

“The American people have a revolutionary tradition which has been adopted by the best representatives of the American proletariat, who have repeatedly expressed their complete solidarity with us Bolsheviks. That tradition is the war of liberation against the British in the eighteenth century and the Civil War in the nineteenth century. In some respects, if we only take into consideration the “destruction” of some branches of industry and of the national economy, America in 1870 was behind 1860. But what a pedant, what an idiot would anyone be to deny on these grounds the immense, world-historic, progressive and revolutionary significance of the American Civil War of 1863-65!

The representatives of the bourgeoisie understand that for the sake of overthrowing Negro slavery, of overthrowing the rule of the slaveowners, it was worth letting the country go through long years of civil war, through the abysmal ruin, destruction and terror that accompany every war. But now, when we are confronted with the vastly greater task of overthrowing capitalist wage-slavery, of overthrowing the rule of the bourgeoisie—now, the representatives and defenders of the bourgeoisie, and also the reformist socialists who have been frightened by the bourgeoisie and are shunning the revolution, cannot and do not want to understand that civil war is necessary and legitimate.

The American workers will not follow the bourgeoisie. They will be with us, for civil war against the bourgeoisie. The whole history of the world and of the American labour movement strengthens my conviction that this is so. I also recall the words of one of the most beloved leaders of the American proletariat, Eugene Debs, who wrote in the Appeal to Reason,[4] I believe towards the end of 1915, in the article “What Shall I Fight For” (I quoted this article at the beginning of 1916 at a public meeting of workers in Berne, Switzerland)[5]—that he, Debs, would rather be shot than vote credits for the present criminal and reactionary war; that he, Debs, knows of only one holy and, from the proletarian standpoint, legitimate war, namely: the war against the capitalists, the war to liberate mankind from wage-slavery.

I am not surprised that Wilson, the head of the American multimillionaires and servant of the capitalist sharks, has thrown Debs into prison. Let the bourgeoisie be brutal to the true internationalists, to the true representatives of the revolutionary proletariat! The more fierce and brutal they are, the nearer the day of the victorious proletarian revolution.

We are blamed for the destruction caused by our revolution. . . . Who are the accusers? The hangers-on of the bourgeoisie, of that very bourgeoisie who, during the four years of the imperialist war, have destroyed almost the whole of European culture and have reduced Europe to barbarism, brutality and starvation. These bourgeoisie now demand we should not make a revolution on these ruins, amidst this wreckage of culture, amidst the wreckage and ruins created by the war, nor with the people who have been brutalised by the war. How humane and righteous the bourgeoisie are!

Their servants accuse us of resorting to terror. . . . The British bourgeoisie have forgotten their 1649, the French bourgeoisie have forgotten their 1793. Terror was just and legitimate when the bourgeoisie resorted to it for their own benefit against feudalism. Terror became monstrous and criminal when the workers and poor peasants dared to use it against the bourgeoisie! Terror was just and legitimate when used for the purpose of substituting one exploiting minority for another exploiting minority. Terror became monstrous and criminal when it began to be used for the purpose of overthrowing every exploiting minority, to be used in the interests of the vast actual majority, in the interests of the proletariat and semi-proletariat, the working class and the poor peasants!”

– V.I. Lenin, “Letter to American Workers”

Russia is an Imperialist Country

Original article on massproletariat.info

The present world situation is defined by a system of capitalist-imperialist relations, and the principal contradiction on the global scale is between imperialist states and oppressed peoples. In Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism Lenin put forward a Marxist analysis of the nature of capitalist-imperialism, and it is to this document that we shall refer, so as to understand the nature of the contemporary inter-imperialist conflict.

It is important that we not fetishize armed conflict as the determining factor in assessing whether a country is an imperialist power. Lenin is quite clear that the military conflicts between imperialist powers are a result of the economic and political struggle between them. In his numerous discussions of World War I, he repeatedly referred to Carl von Clausewitz’s idea that “War is a continuation of politics by other means.”1 Therefore, we will repeat Lenin’s claim that “unless this [the economic essence of imperialism] is studied, it will be impossible to understand and appraise modern war and modern politics.”

So, what then is the economic essence of imperialism? It is the concentration of capital in monopolies, the fusion of banking and industrial capital into finance capital, the export of capital abroad, and the struggle between imperialist powers to repartition the world markets (which eventually and inevitably leads to war between imperialist powers). Russia exhibits all of these features, and is therefore a capitalist-imperialist country. This article offers some analysis of the Russian state and its role in the inter-imperialist conflicts around the world.

The Concentration of Capital in Russia

In Russia there is an extreme concentration of capital, to a degree that exceeds the imperialist powers of Lenin’s time. As Maoists we should be clear, that contemporary Russian imperialism was built upon the concentration of capital that existed in the Social-Imperialist USSR. The vast majority of this capital was not destroyed after the collapse of the USSR, but rather reorganized and concentrated in a small number of hands. The US-led imperialist bloc tried to seize control of this formation, but was unable to, which allowed the new bourgeoisie in the USSR to transform, in part, into an independent national bourgeoisie, independent from foreign domination and able to pursue imperial aims.

Based on the official statistics of the Russian state, the top 600 firms in Russia account for over 70% of Russia GDP.2 In Imperialism Lenin analyzed the concentration of production in a number of the imperialist countries at the time. Based on the statistics available to him, he demonstrated the economic basis of imperialism in the United States, where in 1909, the largest 3,060 firms accounted for 43.8% of the total GDP. From this it is clear that the concentration of capital in Russia today is much greater than it was in the US in the early 20th century. Thus, Russia clearly has the concentration of capital necessary to provide the economic foundation of imperialism.

Finance Capital in Russia

In Russian industry we can see a clear fusion of banking and industrial capital into finance capital. Lenin described this process:

“As banking develops and becomes concentrated in a small number of establishments, the banks grow from modest middlemen into powerful monopolies having at their command almost the whole of the money capital of all the capitalists and small businessmen and also the larger part of the means of production and sources of raw materials in any one country and in a number of countries. This transformation of numerous modest middlemen into a handful of monopolists is one of the fundamental processes in the growth of capitalism into capitalist imperialism.”

To demonstrate the degree of centralization of capital in the big German banks by 1913, Lenin showed that the ‘Big 9’ banks in Germany together controlled just under 50% of the total deposits in Germany. Today, Sberbank is the largest bank in Russia, and the 3rd largest bank in Central and Eastern Europe.3 It has an annual operating income of 28 billion USD, and deposits totaling 312 billion USD.4 This amounts to approximately 36% of the total deposits in Russia (849 billion USD5) concentrated in a single financial institution. The breakdown of the deposits, and their share of the total, of the five biggest banks (by total assets) in Russia today is as follows:

So we can clearly see that finance capital is a powerful force in Russia, with large financial institutions concentrating large amounts of capital, and large percentages of all the capital in the country. What’s more the concentration of capital in Russia exceeds that of many of the imperialist powers in Lenin’s time. This concentration of capital in the big banks changes their role, from simply functioning as payment intermediaries to playing a key role in planning and directing the economy as a whole, deciding which resources to extract, which companies to fund, which to avoid, and so on. This necessarily arises due to the concentration of capital, and the decreasing availability of credit from any other sources.

The executives (or at least the marketing team) of Sberbank are quite up-front about this on their ‘About’ page, saying that Sberbank is “the circulatory system of the Russian economy, accounting for one third of its banking system. The Bank provides employment and a source of income for every 150th Russian family.” and “the Bank is the key lender to the Russian economy and the biggest receiver of deposits in Russia.” Sberbank holds 44.9% of retail deposits, and issues 37.7% of retail loans and 32.7% of corporate loans in Russia.11 We can see clearly that finance capital exists in Russia, and is well-developed, with the majority of the banking market and capital controlled by a few very large firms which direct the affairs of the rest of the enterprises.

As another example, consider the Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom, which is also the largest company in Russia by revenue. Gazprom was originally created in 1989 when the Soviet Ministry of Gas and Industry was privatized, and has grown significantly since that point. Gazprom has annual revenues in excess of $100 billion and has a significant financial and investment wing.12 As we see above, one of its financial subsidiaries, Gazprombank, has the third most deposits of any bank in Russia, indicating the degree to which banking and industrial capital are fused internal to Gazprom.

Gazprom also has an effective monopoly in the gas industry in Russia (accounting for 83% of gas production in Russia, and 17% of the gas production in the whole world) and also has significant holdings in media, oil production, and other sectors. Gazprom is just one example of many finance-capital firms in Russia (others include LUKoil, the 10th largest oil company in the world13, and Sberbank). All of this definitively indicates that Russia also has the fusion of industrial and banking capital into monopoly finance-capital firms necessary to constitute an imperialist country.

The Export of Capital by Russian Firms

These large firms in Russia also export significant amounts of capital abroad. A few examples: Gazprom has subsidiaries in 36 countries outside of Russia, in 2016 Rosfnet (the 3rd largest company in Russia14) purchased a 98% stake in the India-based oil company Essar Oil for ~$13 billion,15 and overall Russian direct investment abroad exceeds $440 billion.16 While this pales in comparison the ~$5 trillion that the US has in foreign direct investment abroad, it still represents a significant export of capital.

It is also important to consider the overall picture of capital flowing into and out of a country, summed up by a set of figures called international investment position, which captures the assets, such as direct investments, as well as stocks, bonds, and other investments which are not counted as ‘direct investment,’ and all liabilities. This figure shows that Russia currently has about $1.2 trillion invested abroad,17 with a ‘net’ IIP (balance of assets vs liabilities) of over $200 billion. This means that, on balance, Russian capitalists are net exporters of capital, and that, while the sums involved are modest compared to that of the US, it is clear that capital is being profitably exported around the world from Russia.

As a concrete example of capital export we can look at the acquisitions that Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, has made in the past few years. According to their website, Sberbank counts 70% of Russian population among its customers.18 This is clearly a massive market share, but the bank has its sights set on breaking into other markets and expanding its presence, especially in central and eastern Europe. To this end, in 2011 it acquired a 100% stake in Volksbank International AG19, an Austrian bank which subsequently changed its name to Sberbank Europe AG20. This transaction, conducted for between €585 and €64521 million, was Sberbank’s first acquisition outside of the former USSR. The CEO of Sberbank, Herman Gref, said of the deal that “This will give us access to the attractive and growing markets of Central and Eastern Europe, and it will serve as a platform for organic growth and further acquisitions in the region.”22He wasn’t exaggerating, since the Volksbank International group (with its subsidiaries) was counted among the top 10% financial institutions in several countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, and Slovenia.

The next year, no doubt looking to diversify and push into other markets, Sberbank made a deal to purchase the Turkish bank DenizBank for $3.5 billion USD23, allowing for similar expansion in that market. Although Sberbank has also made significant domestic acquisitions, including paying $1 billion USD for the investment bank Troika Dialog in 201124, it is clear that expansion into foreign markets via acquisitions is the bank’s key strategy for expanding market share and ensuring consistent profits.

The Struggle Between Imperialist Powers

In recent years the contradictions between Russian imperialism and the US led imperialist bloc have sharpened. This is most evident in the Syrian Civil War, and the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine; however, it is also apparent in the shifting situation in Turkey, in the Italian and Hungarian governments’ opposition to the automatic renewal of sanctions against Russia, and in Rodrigo Duterte’s overtures to Moscow. All of these are concrete instances of the struggle between rival imperialist powers to redivide a world that has already been divided up. In particular, the shifting allegiances of client-states which were formally consolidated to the camp of US/European imperialism are a sign of the growing power of emerging imperialist states such as China and Russia.

While there has been much discussion of the trend of globalization since 2000, Lenin was clear that by the beginning of the 20th century capitalism was a global system: “For the first time the world is completely divided up, so that in the future only redivision is possible, i.e., territories can only pass from one “owner” to another, instead of passing as ownerless territory to an owner.”25Monopoly-capitalist blocs, whose interests shape the foreign policy of imperialist states, have a major interest in expanding their access to markets and territory, with which in turn comes access to natural resources, labor power, etc. This necessarily leads to inter-imperialist struggle, the struggle to redivide and re-partition the world and its markets, since the world is finite and the imperialist hunger for cheap labour power, capital, and raw materials is limitless.

Inter-imperialist conflict, at its most extreme, takes the form of world wars, which destroy huge quantities of productive capital and (in the two examples so far) have led to the death of many millions of people. However, world war is only the sharpest form of ‘politics by another means’ that occurs in inter-imperialist competition. Proxy-wars, annexation of territory, and expansionism are the constant foreign policy of imperialist states. This is visible in Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the ongoing warfare in Ukraine where Russian forces and Russian-backed forces are struggling to overthrow the US-aligned Ukrainian government. The struggle to repartition the world is also evident in Syria where the US and US-aligned forces are attempting to overthrow the Russia-supported Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.

However, war and annexations are not the only manifestations of inter-imperialist conflict over access to markets and resources,26 which plays out in many different ways, from free trade agreements, and exclusive grants of mineral and oil rights, to access to shipping lanes and economic sanctions. In fact, escalation to wars or proxy wars are preceded by economic competition. For the purposes of this document, we will consider competition in the natural gas industry. This competition underlies both the conflicts in Syria and the Ukraine. Gazprom is a major supplier of natural gas to Europe, and has a partial monopoly in Eastern Europe. In 2016 Gazprom exported 179.3 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe (a 12.5% increase over the previous year).27 Additionally, the Russian gas industry’s market share in Europe has increased 23% in 2010 to over 34% in 2017.28 This has facilitated closer economic ties between Russia and various European countries, and threatens the US-led imperialist bloc’s dominance in the region.

To counteract this trend, the US worked with its allies in the Middle East to expand existing gas and oil pipelines, connecting them to Turkey and, through Turkey, to Europe. However, in 2009, Bashar al-Assad refused to sign an agreement which would facilitate the expansion of a natural gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey, and the proposed expansions to existing oil pipelines stalled for similar reasons.29 At the same time, the US has been developing its internal natural gas industries and constructing pipelines to export this gas to European markets. The US and its allies have also imposed and continue to impose sanctions on the Russian state and Russian corporations.

It was only after years of this sort of economic competition that the contradictions between these rival imperialist powers sharpened to the point of armed conflict.30 At present, this armed conflict is largely conducted through proxies, but could eventually escalate to outright conflict between these imperialist camps.

In this regard, it is important to note that Russia has the sixth largest military in the world in terms of personnel (larger than even the United States)31, and the third largest military by budget.32Russia spends 4.9% of its GDP on its military every year, beating the US’ 3.3% spending.33Additionally, Russia has a huge reserve of nuclear weapons from the cold war era. All of this constitutes a significant military force. This large military, alongside the proxies that Russia supports with arms deals, training, and the like, are used by the Russian state in the military aspects of inter-imperialist competition.

Conclusion

We have found it necessary to outline these points to elaborate on the relevance of Lenin’s definition of capitalist-imperialism today. Absent a genuine revolutionary force, there are three possibilities for nation-states under capitalist-imperialism. They can be imperialist powers (of one strength or another), comprador client-states, or failed states subject to the plunder of competing imperialist powers. Failure to understand Lenin’s ideas invariably leads to various social-chauvinist positions, whether it’s ignoring the ways that the Assad government oppresses the people of Syria and Kurdistan, or denying that China’s export of capital to Africa is imperialist profiteering built on national oppression and super-exploitation. This sort of social-chauvinism also leads some to negate the increasingly fascist character of the Indian state, which is currently leading a fairly open war on its own people.

We have to be clear about the situation on a world level, and, as Lenin put it, practice “what is most important, that which constitutes the very gist, the living soul, of Marxism—a concrete analysis of a concrete situation,”34 lest our theory cease to be a guide for action, a tool for illuminating reality in a revolutionary way, and instead transform into a stale dogma, recited to justify social-chauvinism, imperialist-economism, and inactivity.

When analyzing the contemporary international situation it is necessary to grapple with Lenin’s ideas and concretely apply them to particular situations. If we do not we will be unable to distinguish comprador forces, who are dominantly in the camp of the enemies of the people, from revolutionary national forces, who can, in particular situations, play a key role as part of a united front. We will be unable to distinguish true proletarian internationalism, e.g. the assistance China gave to the Korean people to counter US imperialism during the Korean war, from imperialist aggression and proxy-wars, e.g. the Russian support for the Assad government. As Lenin said in the preface to Imperialism:

“Unless the economic roots of this phenomenon are understood and its political and social significance is appreciated, not a step can be taken toward the solution of the practical problem of the communist movement and of the impending social revolution.”35

The question of “who are our friends, who are our enemies?” is one of the most important questions we need to grapple with. It is our hope that this short document will demonstrate that the Russian state is not a friend of the people, but instead the representative of a bloc of monopoly-capitalists itching to secure “a bigger piece of the pie” through the incessant inter-imperialist struggle to redivide the world.

Updated 7/2/17: Fixed minor typos.

Updated 7/3/17: Corrected inaccurate statement describing Sberbank as the 3rd largest bank in Europe. Sberbank is the 3rd largest bank in Central and Eastern Europe, not Europe overall. Also fixed minor typos.

  1. c.f. War and Revolution, https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/may/14.htm 
  2. Based on data from http://raexpert.ru/rankingtable/top_companies/2016/main/ 
  3. http://www.thebanker.com/Top-1000/Top-1000-World-Banks-Sales-bring-changes-in-CEE-but-Russia-still-rules?ct=true 
  4. http://www.sberbank.com/investor-relations/financial-results-and-presentations/key-data, retrieved 6-22-17, currency figures converted to USD from RUB 
  5. https://www.ceicdata.com/en/indicator/russia/total-deposits, retrieved 6-22-17 
  6. The VTB group also controls the 4th largest bank (VTB-24) as a wholly-owned subsidiary. VTB-24 has been omitted here since the VTB group counts the deposits of VTB-24 as part of its total. 
  7. http://www.vtb.com/ir/glance/, retrieved 6-22-17, currency figures converted to USD from RUB 
  8. http://www.gazprombank.ru/eng/ir/fin_stat/, retrieved 6-22-17, currency figures converted to USD from RUB 
  9. http://alfabank.com/f/1/investor/financial_reports/financial_statements_ifrs/ab_IFRS_audited_report_2016.pdf, retrieved 6-22-17 
  10. https://ir.open.ru/en/info, retrieved 6-22-17, currency figures converted to USD from RUB 
  11. http://www.sberbank.com/about, retrieved 6-23-17 
  12. http://www.chinapost.com.tw/business/company-focus/2015/04/30/434792/Gazproms-net.htm 
  13. Based on data from http://fortune.com/global500 
  14. Based on data from http://raexpert.ru/rankingtable/top_companies/2016/main/ 
  15. http://indianexpress.com/article/business/economy/brics-summit-2016-rosneft-partners-buy-essar-oil-for-13-billion-in-largest-fdi-deal-3084527/ 
  16. CIA factbook 
  17. http://data.imf.org/regular.aspx?key=60947518, retrieved 6-22-17 
  18. http://www.sberbank.com/about, retrieved 7-1-17 
  19. http://www.vsbank.ua/en/news/~sberbank, retrieved 7-1-17 
  20. http://banksdaily.com/info/vbi, retrieved 7-1-17 
  21. Between $668 and $737 million USD 
  22. https://www.rt.com/business/sberbank-volksbank-acquisition-100-183/, retrieved 7-1-17 
  23. https://www.sberbank.at/press-releases/sberbank-announces-agreement-acquire-9985-denizbank, retrieved 7-1-17 
  24. http://uk.reuters.com/article/troika-sberbank-idUSLDE72A0E420110311, retrieved 7-1-17 
  25. Lenin, Imperialism, Ch. 6. Available online: https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/ch06.htm 
  26. A forthcoming document will address how this competition is currently playing out in the conflict in Syria and Iraq. 
  27. http://www.standard.net/Business/2017/03/01/Why-Gazprom-has-gained-market-share-in-Europe 
  28. https://www.platts.com/latest-news/natural-gas/moscow/gazprom-sees-gas-share-in-europe-growing-further-26885243 and http://www.standard.net/Business/2017/03/01/Why-Gazprom-has-gained-market-share-in-Europe 
  29. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/moscow-rejects-saudi-offer-to-drop-assad-for-arms-deal.aspx?pageID=238&nid=52245 
  30. In our document on the Syrian Civil War, we provide more in depth analysis of the situation there as an instance of inter-imperialist struggle. 
  31. International Institute for Strategic Studies (3 February 2014). The Military Balance 2014. London: Routledge. ISBN 9781857437225. p 180-192 
  32. “Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2016” (PDF). Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  33. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/MS.MIL.XPND.GD.ZS, retrieved 6-24-17 
  34. Lenin, Collected Works, English ed., Moscow, 1974, Vol. 31, p. 166). Available online at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/cw/pdf/lenin-cw-vol-31.pdf 
  35. Lenin, Imperialism, Preface to the German and French editions. Available online at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/pref02.htm 

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PFLP statement on the 50th anniversary of the June defeat: struggle to confront Zionism and imperialism

June 5 marks 50 years since the defeat of 1967, which had among its most prominent results, the completion of the occupation of the rest of Palestine, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai. This occasion deepened the concept of defeat and its implication in Arab thought and practice and has sparked numerous efforts and political settlement projects under the pretext of resolving the Arab-Zionist conflict.

The defeat of June 5 came to confirm the nature and essence of the Zionist project and its aspirations for expansion, hegemony and occupation of a central area of the Arab region. This occupation included the Zionist project and its colonial and imperialist partners and allies, with shared goals, interests and ambitions in the Arab world, including the plundering of its resources, ensuring its fragmentation and continued underdevelopment. It also highlighted the weakness of the overall Arab situation, intensifying the contradictions of that situation. Despite all of these factors, it also opened the door to the intensification and escalation of the Palestinian resistance movement and popular defiance in the face of colonial aggression.

This intensification and escalation of Palestinian people’s resistance and the Arab response have shown, along with the Zionist project and its objectives of expansion, that the comprehensive and historical conflict with the Zionist enemy as a struggle for existence is not only between the Palestinian people and this enemy alone, but in essence is a conflict between the Arab nation as a whole and the Zionist project which aims at the dependence, subordination and fragmentation of this nation and the Arab homeland and the continued plundering of its resources and wealth, ensuring the security and stability of the Israeli occupation and its continued technological superiority and progress.

To the Palestinian and Arab masses…

Despite 50 years after the defeat, we continue to suffer its effects very clearly. In terms of the Zionist project, we see the continued occupation of Palestine and other Arab lands, despite numerous international resolutions that do not recognize the occupation and calling for withdrawal. In practice, colonization on the ground has increased continually since that time. The leaders of the Zionist project have continued the terror and ethnic cleansing that began before 1948 against the Palestinian people and its armies and aircraft have continued their attacks on the Arab countries. Their support for reactionary and extremist forces seeks to add new burdens and costs to the Arab situation, which suffers from division, weakness and fragmentation of the national and social fabric. This comes in accordance with the open and secret wars that are hurting all with the continued erosion and exhaustion of the Arab body with violence and pressure in political, economic and military forms to impose almost complete complacency before the imperialist project. In light of the ongoing U.S.-Zionist attacks, colonialism and occupation, we in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine emphasize:

First, rejection of the political and military outcomes of the defeat of June and all of the desperate attempts to lead the Arab-Zionist struggle to the gateway of so-called “peaceful settlement solutions” that depend on recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist entity and its existence, from Camp David through the Oslo Accords and Wadi Araba. We reject all attempts to normalize between Arab states and the Zionist enemy, part of an apparent attempt to erase the essential nature of the struggle. This is a confrontation between, on one side, the imperialist powers, the Zionist project and its tool “Israeli occupation,” and on the other, the entire Arab nation. This struggle is for the liberation of the entire land of Palestine and the return of its people who were displaced to the corners of the earth through systematic uprooting and ethnic cleansing, and for the liberation of the Arab people and control over their destiny, wealth and resources, on the road to the dismantling of the Zionist state, a state of occupation, aggression and permanent warfare against the Palestinian and Arab people.

Second, rejection of the so-called Arab-American-Islamic Summit in Riyadh and its results, which aim to distort the main contradiction in the region with the Zionist project and the Israeli state and shift the conflict to one with Iran through the formation of a so-called “Sunni”-Israeli-American alliance. This is an attempt to tailor Arab politics to the requirements of the imperialist and Zionist project and confirm the dominance of the Zionist state in the region. It also aims to target Arab and Palestinian resistance forces, which were described in this summit, in the words of US President Donald Trump as “terrorism.”

Third, confrontation of the results of this summit with the broadest official and popular Arab alliance, uniting all Arab progressive forces struggling for liberation and freedom from imperialism and Zionism in the region. This struggle requires activating the role of the Arab Progressive Front based on clear strategies and tactics and comprehensive planning.

Fourth, ending all Palestinian and Arab reliance on the path of so-called negotiations, which have proven through experience to be painful, damaging and a complete failure in achieving any Arab or Palestinian objectives. Any reliance on a positive role played by Trump confirms the continued cultivation of illusions and losing bets. This administration comes in continuation and intensification of the ongoing strategic policy of US administrations, designed to ensure the security, stability, progress and technical and military superiority of the Zionist occupation. Therefore, it will only strive to impose a political solution in conformity with a U.S./Israeli vision.

Our choice is that of the Palestinian people, resistance and struggle for national liberation and ending all forms of absurd negotiations with the Zionist enemy. This includes full commitment to the resolutions of the Palestinian Central Council and PLO Executive Committee, including the end of negotiations and security coordination with the occupation, on the road to a complete break with the Oslo agreement, its political and economic consequences and its disastrous impact on the Palestinian liberation struggle and our rights.

Fifth, prioritizing the Palestinian reconciliation file and undertaking hard work to end the division. This begins by ending all actions taken against the Gaza Strip and collective resolution of the issue of the administration committee and implementing reconciliation agreements. This also includes the rebuilding and restoration of Palestinian national institutions, particularly the Palestine Liberation Organization, on the basis of national and democratic foundations. It is not acceptable to deal with these institutions as a site of exclusivity, domination and monopoly, and instead it is critical to open the field widely for all forces, institutions and social strata to participate in the management of Palestinian national affairs.

Sixth, our salutes and appreciation to the brave prisoners and their struggle in the battle for freedom and dignity that they fought for 41 days of empty stomachs, confronting the occupation and its inhumane policies. We affirm our full and continued support for the prisoners’ struggle until freedom, liberation and the return of our people to their homes, lands and homeland.

Glory to the Palestinian People, the Arab nation and the brave resistance! 
Glory to the martyrs and freedom for the prisoners!

Victory is inevitable

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
June 5, 2017

Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan): Condemn the ISIS (Daesh) Criminal and Terrorist Attacks in Tehran, Iran!

On Wednesday June 7, 2017, three men entered the visiting section of the Parliament (Majles) and opened fire on the security guards. A few minutes later, media reported on two suicide bombers in the Khomeni’s mausoleum in southern Tehran. According to the official reports, 12 people were killed and more than 40 were injured. The criminal Islamic State, ISIS (Daesh) gang, has claimed responsibility for these attacks.

1) ISIS and the events that are going on in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan,… are the product of the policies followed by the Western imperialist and their Saudi-led allies in the region. The disintegration of the countries of the region takes place according to the interests and expediencies of the Zionist Israel and imperialist USA.

2) The terrorist actions in Tehran is also the result of the President Trump’ visit to Saudi Arabia where he signed a 110 Milliard (Billion) dollars military contract with the Saudi Kingdom. Donald Trump fueled the tension in the region, especially between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The tension between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, due to the establishment of closer ties between Qatar and Iran, and the economic blockade of Qatar can be explained in this framework.

3) The terrorist attacks in Tehran, regardless of the reactionary nature of the Islamic Republic, is carried out with the goal of generating disturbance, anarchy, civil war, and eventually disintegration of the country. The killing and slaughter of the Iranian people cannot be acceptable by any progressive force or peace loving individual. The terrorist operation in Iran is strongly condemned worldwide.

4) To effectively fight against foreign plots and the imperialist’s terrorist policy of destabilization of Iran, the mass support is an absolute necessity. On the contrary, the regime of the Islamic Republic adopts the policy of exploiting the situation for its own interest and of intensifying the repression of the demands of the masses. Such a reactionary policy of the Islamic Republic cannot provide domestic security, stability, tranquility, and normality. Only the freedom, welfare and comfort, and the unity of the masses guarantee the victory over terrorism and over the lackeys of imperialism.

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) expresses condolences to the families of the victims of the terrorist actions. We strongly condemn the barbaric and terrorist actions in Tehran, and calls on the people to be vigilant and united against the dangers that threaten Iran.

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan)

June 7, 2017

The Berlin Wall: Another Cold War Myth

 

November 9 will mark the 25th anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The extravagant hoopla began months ago in Berlin. In the United States we can expect all the Cold War clichés about The Free World vs. Communist Tyranny to be trotted out and the simple tale of how the wall came to be will be repeated: In 1961, the East Berlin communists built a wall to keep their oppressed citizens from escaping to West Berlin and freedom. Why? Because commies don’t like people to be free, to learn the “truth”. What other reason could there have been?

First of all, before the wall went up in 1961 thousands of East Germans had been commuting to the West for jobs each day and then returning to the East in the evening; many others went back and forth for shopping or other reasons. So they were clearly not being held in the East against their will. Why then was the wall built? There were two major reasons:

1) The West was bedeviling the East with a vigorous campaign of recruiting East German professionals and skilled workers, who had been educated at the expense of the Communist government. This eventually led to a serious labor and production crisis in the East. As one indication of this, the New York Times reported in 1963: “West Berlin suffered economically from the wall by the loss of about 60,000 skilled workmen who had commuted daily from their homes in East Berlin to their places of work in West Berlin.”

It should be noted that in 1999, USA Today reported: “When the Berlin Wall crumbled [1989], East Germans imagined a life of freedom where consumer goods were abundant and hardships would fade. Ten years later, a remarkable 51% say they were happier with communism.”   Earlier polls would likely have shown even more than 51% expressing such a sentiment, for in the ten years many of those who remembered life in East Germany with some fondness had passed away; although even 10 years later, in 2009, the Washington Post could report: “Westerners [in Berlin] say they are fed up with the tendency of their eastern counterparts to wax nostalgic about communist times.”

It was in the post-unification period that a new Russian and eastern Europe proverb was born: “Everything the Communists said about Communism was a lie, but everything they said about capitalism turned out to be the truth.”

It should be further noted that the division of Germany into two states in 1949 – setting the stage for 40 years of Cold War hostility – was an American decision, not a Soviet one.

2) During the 1950s, American cold-warriors in West Germany instituted a crude campaign of sabotage and subversion against East Germany designed to throw that country’s economic and administrative machinery out of gear. The CIA and other US intelligence and military services recruited, equipped, trained and financed German activist groups and individuals, of West and East, to carry out actions which ran the spectrum from juvenile delinquency to terrorism; anything to make life difficult for the East German people and weaken their support of the government; anything to make the commies look bad.

It was a remarkable undertaking. The United States and its agents used explosives, arson, short circuiting, and other methods to damage power stations, shipyards, canals, docks, public buildings, gas stations, public transportation, bridges, etc; they derailed freight trains, seriously injuring workers; burned 12 cars of a freight train and destroyed air pressure hoses of others; used acids to damage vital factory machinery; put sand in the turbine of a factory, bringing it to a standstill; set fire to a tile-producing factory; promoted work slow-downs in factories; killed 7,000 cows of a co-operative dairy through poisoning; added soap to powdered milk destined for East German schools; were in possession, when arrested, of a large quantity of the poison cantharidin with which it was planned to produce poisoned cigarettes to kill leading East Germans; set off stink bombs to disrupt political meetings; attempted to disrupt the World Youth Festival in East Berlin by sending out forged invitations, false promises of free bed and board, false notices of cancellations, etc.; carried out attacks on participants with explosives, firebombs, and tire-puncturing equipment; forged and distributed large quantities of food ration cards to cause confusion, shortages and resentment; sent out forged tax notices and other government directives and documents to foster disorganization and inefficiency within industry and unions … all this and much more.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, of Washington, DC, conservative coldwarriors, in one of their Cold War International History Project Working Papers (#58, p.9) states: “The open border in Berlin exposed the GDR [East Germany] to massive espionage and subversion and, as the two documents in the appendices show, its closure gave the Communist state greater security.”

Throughout the 1950s, the East Germans and the Soviet Union repeatedly lodged complaints with the Soviets’ erstwhile allies in the West and with the United Nations about specific sabotage and espionage activities and called for the closure of the offices in West Germany they claimed were responsible, and for which they provided names and addresses. Their complaints fell on deaf ears. Inevitably, the East Germans began to tighten up entry into the country from the West, leading eventually to the infamous wall. However, even after the wall was built there was regular, albeit limited, legal emigration from east to west. In 1984, for example, East Germany allowed 40,000 people to leave. In 1985, East German newspapers claimed that more than 20,000 former citizens who had settled in the West wanted to return home after becoming disillusioned with the capitalist system. The West German government said that 14,300 East Germans had gone back over the previous 10 years.

Let’s also not forget that while East Germany completely denazified, in West Germany for more than a decade after the war, the highest government positions in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches contained numerous former and “former” Nazis.

Finally, it must be remembered, that Eastern Europe became communist because Hitler, with the approval of the West, used it as a highway to reach the Soviet Union to wipe out Bolshevism forever, and that the Russians in World War I and II, lost about 40 million people because the West had used this highway to invade Russia. It should not be surprising that after World War II the Soviet Union was determined to close down the highway.

For an additional and very interesting view of the Berlin Wall anniversary, see the article “Humpty Dumpty and the Fall of Berlin’s Wall” by Victor Grossman. Grossman (née Steve Wechsler) fled the US Army in Germany under pressure from McCarthy-era threats and became a journalist and author during his years in the (East) German Democratic Republic. He still lives in Berlin and mails out his “Berlin Bulletin” on German developments on an irregular basis. You can subscribe to it at wechsler_grossman@yahoo.de. His autobiography: “Crossing the River: a Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War and Life in East Germany” was published by University of Massachusetts Press. He claims to be the only person in the world with diplomas from both Harvard University and Karl Marx University in Leipzig.

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War IIRogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power . His latest book is: America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy. He can be reached at: BBlum6@aol.com

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Soviet Democracy and Bourgeois Democracy

This pamphlet is a translation of an essay published in the symposium Soviet Socialist Society prepared by the Institute of Philosophy of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. and published by the Gospolitizdat, Moscow 1949.

The question of democracy, of how it is to be correctly understood, of the fundamental distinction between Soviet socialist democracy and bourgeois democracy is a highly important question of our time.

Since the Great October Socialist Revolution there have been revealed to the full the great advantages possessed by Soviet socialist democracy, and the decay, crisis and utter decline of bourgeois democracy.

The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union against Hitler Germany showed the invincible strength of the Soviet social and state system. The war showed that “…the Soviet social system is a better form of organization of society than any non-Soviet social system.”[*] The war showed that the Soviet system of state is the best state system ever known to history.

The Soviet State, Soviet socialist democracy emerged from the war stronger than ever. And now, after the close of the war, Soviet democracy is blossoming forth anew, is achieving new successes.

In a number of European countries – Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Albania, Rumania, and Hungary – the system of People’s Democracy has been established. The peoples of these countries displayed self-sacrifice and heroism in the struggle against the fascist oppressors. Having, with the aid of the Soviet Army, secured their liberation from the Nazi yoke, they set about building a democratic order in their countries, but in a new fashion, in a way that rejected the old models of bourgeois-parliamentary democracy. The democracy that arose in these countries assumed new forms, of a higher type than those of the old bourgeois-parliamentary democracy. In these countries democracy is being extended and developed on a scale that indicates that the workers and peasants are really being involved in the administration of the State and that is making the blessings of democracy actually available to the wide masses of the people. New forms of organization of the State have thus arisen which constitute a big advance on the bourgeois democratic states and are opening up the possibility for further progress by these countries on the road to Socialism.

The war also revealed tremendous defects in the old bourgeois-parliamentary forms of democracy. The course of historical development had proved irrefutably that the bourgeois-democratic states, as a result of their flirting with fascism, and their concessions to fascism during the period that preceded the second world war, were in fact – at the beginning of the war – helpless to meet the danger that threatened all the achievements of civilization and democracy, and the free national existence of these countries. The war showed that it was only thanks to the Soviet Union and to the decisive part it played in routing the Nazi aggressors that European civilization was saved from destruction.

* * *

The basic feature of bourgeois democracy, as has been repeatedly noted in the works of the classics of Marxism-Leninism is the fact that it is democracy for the exploiting minority and is directed against the majority. Speaking of bourgeois democracy, Lenin and Stalin pointed out that it undoubtedly constituted progress as compared with feudalism and mediaevalism. The working class has used and endeavours to use the framework of bourgeois democracy so as to develop the class struggle, to set up and consolidate its class organizations. But while Lenin and Stalin pointed to this significance of bourgeois democracy for the working class, they also constantly indicated that bourgeois democracy, based as it is on the dominance of private ownership of the means of production, is formal, false and truncated democracy. “Bourgeois democracy,” wrote Lenin, “although a great historical advance in comparison with mediaevalism, always remains – and under capitalism cannot but remain – restricted, truncated, false and hypocritical, a paradise for the rich and a snare and a delusion for the exploited, for the poor.”[†]

Those who uphold bourgeois democracy use fine phrases about “equality,” “liberty” and “fraternity” in an endeavour to hide the actual domination of the exploiters over the exploited, which is based on the private ownership of the means of production.

Lenin pointed out that general phrases about liberty, equality, democracy are in fact nothing more than the blind repetition of concepts copied from the relations of commodity production. “From the point of view of the proletariat,” wrote Lenin, “the question can be put only in the following way: freedom from being oppressed by which class? equality between which classes? democracy based on private property, or on the struggle for the abolition of private property? – and so forth.”[‡]

Employing all the rigour of Marxist analysis, Lenin and Stalin unmasked bourgeois democracy and placed the issue on the only correct and scientific basis.

Comrade Stalin, in his report on the Draft Constitution of the U.S-S.R. said the following: “They speak of the equality of citizens, but forget that there cannot be real equality between employer and workman, between landlord and peasant, if the former possess wealth and political weight in society while the latter are deprived of both – if the former are exploiters while the latter are exploited. Or again: they speak of freedom of speech, assembly, and the press, but forget that all these liberties may be merely a hollow sound for the working class, if the latter cannot have access to suitable premises for meetings, good printing shops, a sufficient quantity of printing paper, etc.”[§]

When elucidating the specific features of the history and traditions of bourgeois democracy in each country, the classics of Marxism-Leninism pointed out at the same time that “… the most democratic bourgeois republic is a machine for the oppression of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie.”[**]

What distinguishes the epoch of imperialism from the preceding period, the epoch of free competition, is the fact that under imperialism state activity is marked by a turn, all along the line, to political reaction. In both foreign and home policy imperialism strives to violate democracy and establish reaction. These reactionary strivings of imperialism are being displayed more and more glaringly in the political life of present-day England and the U.S.A. This, however, does not prevent those who defend imperialism from talking without end about all the different “freedoms” that are supposed to be part of bourgeois democracy.

Let us, for example, take the question of the so-called “freedom of the press” in bourgeois countries. The fact that a multitude of newspapers of various trends is published in foreign countries, that arguments ensue among these papers on various secondary problems, that different viewpoints are expressed, that criticism is occasionally levelled in these newspapers at those who captain the bourgeois ship of state – all this is lauded to the skies by the advocates of bourgeois democracy. They bring these points forward as evidence of the freedom of the press that is supposed to exist in the bourgeois countries.

Actually, however, the so-called “freedom of the press” in bourgeois society means nothing more than freedom for the capitalists to control the press and to “shape” public opinion to suit their own interests. “Freedom of the press in capitalist society,” said Lenin, “means freedom to trade in the press and in influencing the masses of the people. Freedom of the press means maintaining the press, a most powerful instrument for influencing the masses of the people, at the expense of capital.”[††] Such is the real worth of bourgeois freedom of the press.

The false character of the so-called freedoms, particularly freedom of the press, has even had to be admitted by many publicists and sociologists who defend bourgeois democracy.

Or let us take the so-called “freedom of elections” which is lauded in every way by the apologists of present-day bourgeois democracy. The fact that different parties participate in elections, that a struggle takes place among them, and that these parties advance different programs is extolled by the apologists of bourgeois democracy as evidence of the existence of a supposedly genuine democratic system in these countries. Yet if we delve into the essence of bourgeois “freedom of elections,” so-called, we will see that this boasted “freedom of elections” is as much a fraud as is “freedom of the press.”

Marx, in his work The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, already characterized bourgeois constitutions as follows: “…each paragraph of the Constitution contains its own antithesis, its own Upper and Lower House, namely, liberty in the general phrase, abrogation of liberty in the marginal note.”[‡‡]

Basing himself on later historical experience, Lenin continued this characterization of bourgeois liberties as follows: “… under bourgeois democracy the capitalists, by a thousand and one tricks – which are the more artful and effective the more “pure” democracy is developed – – debar the masses from a share in the work of administration, from freedom of the press, the right of assembly, etc… . For the toiling masses, participation in bourgeois parliaments (which never decide important questions under bourgeois democracy; they are decided by the stock exchange and the banks) is hindered by a thousand and one obstacles, and the workers know and feel, see and realize perfectly well that the bourgeois parliaments are institutions alien to them, instruments for the oppression of the proletarians by the bourgeoisie, institutions of a hostile class, of an exploiting minority.”[§§]

Numerous restrictions exist, both in Great Britain and the United States, that prevent the suffrage being universal. There are restrictions of various kinds on the suffrage, in the shape of literacy qualifications, a poll tax and so on and so forth. In the U.S.A. Negroes possess the formal right to vote and be elected, but in actual practice on only one occasion in fifty years was a Negro elected to Congress. When elections are about to take place in the U.S.A., Negroes have to undergo quite a meticulous examination to establish their ability to read and write, and frequently their “political knowledge.” This is done so as to deprive the overwhelming majority of the Negro population of the suffrage.

Facts of this kind – proof that the freedom of elections is in fact restricted – are quite well known. A wealth of material exposing the sham of “freedom of elections” in bourgeois countries is to be found in the publications and statements of many, even loyal, upholders of bourgeois democracy.

In 1944, a book appeared in the U.S.A. entitled Democracy Begins at Home by Jennings Perry. The author, editor of the newspaper Tennessean, devotes this work to the problem of the poll tax in the State of Tennessee and in the Southern States in general. The book discloses a highly interesting picture of the morals characteristic of present-day American democracy. It turns out that in the U.S.A. the years 1889 to 1908 saw the gradual introduction in all the states of something in the nature of a tax on the right to vote. It became the rule that citizens could not participate in the elections unless they paid this tax.

What effect did this tax have on the elections? In 1936 there took place the election of the Governor of the State of Tennessee. Of a total of 1,200,000 electors only 352,000 voted. A certain adventurer and racketeer by the name of Crump controlled a solid block of between 60,000 and 70,000 votes and so had the entire State of Tennessee in his grip. Here is an eloquent description of him, given in 1939 by the United Press correspondent, John Parris: “Edward Hull Crump can lift the telephone in his insurance and real estate company office and with one command send 60,000 sovereign Democrats to the secret polls to do his bidding.”

The author of the above-mentioned book cites facts to show how democracy has gradually disappeared in Tennessee. “We,” he writes, “have retrogressed toward government by a chosen few at a rapid rate,” democracy has turned into oligarchy.

An idea of the system and character of general elections in Great Britain is given in the book of the Liberal Party leader, Ramsay Muir, entitled How Britain Is Governed. In this book the British election system is called outright “in the highest degree unjust, unsatisfactory and dangerous.” This system, wrote Muir, “actually disfranchises a large majority of the electors. If we could estimate the total of those whose votes are of no avail because they have voted for unsuccessful candidates; of those who have refused to use their votes because there was no candidate with whom they agreed; and of those who have voted reluctantly for somebody who did not represent their views merely because he was less objectionable than the available alternatives: we should probably find that something like 70 per cent of the total (electorate had either been unable to exercise any influence upon the course of events by the use of their votes, or had been compelled to give their support to some doctrine or policy with which they disagreed.”[***]

In the British General Election of 1945, over 8 million electors, or 25 per cent of the total, did not vote. In the 1946 Congressional elections in the U.S.A., only 39 per cent of the electors voted, a fact that was considered by the entire American press to be indicative of very great activity on the part of the electors.

That is how matters stand as regards the so- called “General Elections” in Great Britain and the U.S.A. All these data provide the clearest and most convincing proof that the elections in bourgeois-democratic countries are not general at all and that bourgeois democracy is a hypocritical, truncated, and false affair.

What bourgeois democracy really is and how the bourgeoisie of today understand political liberty was shown by the elections to the legislature held in Italy in April 1948. In order to ensure that the forces of bourgeois reaction should achieve victory over the People’s Front parties in Italy, international imperialist reaction, headed by the U.S.A., openly threatened to resort to armed intervention, should the People’s Front parties be the victors.

The U.S. State Department declared that if the People’s Front were victorious all aid to Italy in the shape of food and manufactured products would be stopped. Atom bombs, wrote the American press, would be dropped on those towns where People’s Front candidates were elected. American warships carrying troops were anchored in Italian ports. French troops were brought up to the Italian frontier. In violation of the peace treaty with Italy, the De Gasperi government set up powerful police forces, equipped with American tanks, armoured cars, and artillery. Terror was employed openly and on a mass scale against people, against the progressive forces; so too were intimidation, threats, blackmail and plain deception, in a word, all possible means were brought into action in order to ensure victory for Italian reaction. The Vatican, too, with its black army of a million and a half priests, monks and nuns – in violation of all the laws forbidding the Vatican to interfere in political life – joined in the election campaign on the side of Italian reaction.

Reaction, lay and spiritual, threatened to withhold absolution, to bring down all the torments of Hades on the heads of those who refused to vote for the parties of bourgeois reaction. But, neither open terror, violence, deception, increased ideological pressure, nor the blatant and impudent intervention of the American Government in Italy’s internal affairs succeeded in bringing victory to reaction. Whereupon the De Gasperi government and its minister Scelba proceeded to falsify the election results by every possible means.

The Italian elections of April 1948 will go down in the history of bourgeois democracy as a most abominable and disgusting mockery of democracy and freedom.

* * *

The war of 1914-18, Lenin pointed out, made clear even to backward workers the real character of bourgeois democracy as being the dictatorship of the imperialist bourgeoisie. The war tore the false trimmings from bourgeois democracy, and showed that it was the thirst of the imperialist powers for conquest that was responsible for millions of people being killed. During the post-war period the real countenance of bourgeois democracy was still more clearly revealed. In a number of European countries, and first and foremost in Germany and Italy, bourgeois democracy actually paved the way there for the victory of fascism. The fascists began to kindle a new world war. As to the ruling circles of the “‘democratic” countries, particularly the ruling Conservative circles of Great Britain, they pursued a policy of “appeasing” the fascists, of pleading with the fascist “führers,” a policy of concessions to the fascists, of inciting the fascist aggressors to attack the U.S.S.R. The ruling circles of the U.S.A., on their part, financed the re-armament and further armament of imperialist Germany. As a result, the fascist aggressors let loose a new world war, which cost tens of millions of lives and threatened the freedom and independence of the nations of Europe and the whole world, and the democratic gains of the working people.

However, even the second world war taught little to the ruling circles of the present- day bourgeois-“democratic” countries, who still continue to connive with fascist elements. The reactionary groups in the U.S.A. are conducting an anti-popular domestic policy, one directed against the workers’ organizations, against progressive social ideas and progressive public figures. The governments of the imperialist states are pursuing a policy of supporting the reactionary elements all over the world, a policy of suppressing the movement for national liberation in the colonial countries. Militarization on an enormous scale is taking place in the countries of old, bourgeois democracy which at one time, in the epoch of pre-monopolist capitalism, were distinguished, among other things, by the fact that militarism and military cliques were little developed there.

In January 1947, the American liberal weekly The New Republic published an article by Henry Wallace, former Vice-President of the U.S.A. This article, in which he disclosed the growth of militarist tendencies in the U.S.A., caused a tremendous uproar in that country. Army and militarist circles, declared Wallace, dominate in the sphere of scientific research, and control scientists. The military buy science and scientists. Many American universities derive more funds from the War Department than from all other sources put together.

Wallace wrote that prior to the war the U.S.A. expended almost 50 million dollars annually on research work. In 1946 they expended almost one billion dollars, 90 per cent of which was for war purposes. Science – he said – was degenerating to the brute level of Nazism, when it expended the greater part of its time working out methods of destroying human life.

The military outlook, continued Wallace, must not be permitted to dominate over science in peacetime. If we permitted the present situation to continue, things would finally reach a point where a semi-military police state would be established in the U.S.A.

Similar reproaches were levelled at bourgeois democracy by Stafford Cripps, in a book published in England comparatively recently and entitled Democracy Up-to-Date. The author speaks of the decline of democracy in Great Britain. Proof of this, he states, is to be found in the apathy of the electors, in the lack of interest in the House of Commons and its work. Cripps admits that the system of British democracy suffers from grave defects “arising out of the advantages which wealth can give to one or other side in an electoral contest.”

Now that Cripps has become one of the leading figures in the British Labour Government, he is exerting no little effort to ensure that the profits of the capitalists go up, and that the standard of living of the workers goes down.

Such are the fundamental defects of present-day bourgeois democracy, as admitted even by supporters and upholders of the bourgeois system.

The real rulers of American “democracy” are the oil, chemical, steel and other magnates, the bosses of the huge monopolies and trusts; they include Herbert Hoover, ex-president of the U.S.A., Du Pont, member of the board of the chemicals and explosives company that is playing a leading part in the production of atom bombs, the Rockefeller-Morgan group, the banker Eugene Meyer, the owners of the majority of the shares of General Motors and General Electric, the Fords and Whitneys, the Mellons, Harknesses and others.

In 1946 there was republished in the U.S.A. Lundherg’s America’s 60 Families, a book that describes the financial oligarchy of present-day America which is made up of approximately 60 of the wealthiest families and is the unofficial, invisible, behind-the-scenes but actual government, the “money government.” “The outstanding American proprietors of today,” writes Lundberg, “tower historically over the proud aristocracy that surrounded Louis XIV, Czar Nicholas, Kaiser Wilhelm, and the Emperor Franz Joseph, and wield vastly greater power. The might of cardinal Richelieu, Metternich, Bismarck, or Disraeli was no greater than that of private citizens, undistinguished by titles, like J. P. Morgan, Andrew W. Mellon, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford and the Du Ponts.” They it is who are the uncrowned kings of America. They it is who exert enormous influence over the line of government policy, they it is who pursue the policy of fighting the workers and the trade unions within the country. They, the uncrowned kings, are the power behind the scenes, and the official organs of government pay careful heed to their instructions, to their desires.

Present-day American democracy is in fact “democracy” for suppressing the working-class movement within the country, “democracy” for supporting the most reactionary elements throughout the world, “democracy” for unbridled imperialist expansion. The anti-labour Truman- Case and Taft-Hartley Acts, the effort of reaction to destroy the workers’ organizations and deprive the workers of their rights, the campaigns of mass terror directed against the Negroes, the incitement of anti-Semitism, and the persecution of Communists – all these are glaring illustrations of the organic defects of present-day American “democracy.”

With ever growing frequency the demand is being raised in the columns of the reactionary press and on the floor of Congress that the activities of the Communist Party be banned. Thus, at the Congress session of January 23, 1947, the Republican Dirksen raised the demand that the government take measures against Communist Party activity in the U.S.A.; McCormack went still further and demanded not only that the Communist Party be banned but also that a crusade be conducted against Communism in Europe. He called on the U.S. Government to render more energetic and active support to the reactionary elements in France, Italy, Spain and other countries. In March 1947, the Secretary of Labour of the United States, Schwellenbach, speaking before the House Committee on Labour and Education, declared in favour of the Communist Party being outlawed. Schwellenbach demanded that Communists be dismissed from public bodies of every kind, and that they be deprived of the right to hold office in the trade unions. The whole of this campaign was crowned by the arch-reactionary Mundt Bill, directed against the elementary civil rights of the industrial workers and working people in general.

The ultra-reactionaries in the U.S.A. are openly driving the country to fascism. Numerous government bodies resort to unconstitutional practices in conducting an organized ideological and political campaign against the Communists and the entire labour movement. Many reactionary newspapers call for the summary liquidation “here and now,” of the Communist Party, trade union and other progressive organizations; they demand that active members of the labour movement be ruthlessly dealt with. This “crusade” of the reactionary press in the U.S.A. brings back to mind the “famous” campaigns conducted by the German fascists in the years preceding their advent to power.

Thomas, then chairman of the notorious Committee to Investigate Un-American Activities made the statement in Congress that: “Our job for the next two years shall be to rout them [the Communists] out.” (The New York Times, Nov. 27, 1946.)

On the insistence of Thomas and Hoover a special committee was appointed at the end of November 1946 to investigate “officials under suspicion” and to purge government institutions of the “reds.”

The New York P. M. in an item dealing with the commencement of the operations of this Committee wrote that the attempt to replace the Civil Service Commission by the Federal Bureau of Investigation constituted a great danger. Should such a replacement take place it would be one more step, and a very disastrous one, towards transforming the Federal Bureau of Investigation into a political police force, and the United States into a police state. This would be a “disruptive” act of far greater dimensions than anything any official could commit.

In March 1947 Truman issued an order, that went into immediate effect, for all civil servants to undergo investigation and for the dismissal of all “subversive” persons, i.e., of those suspected of adherence to or sympathy with the Communist and other democratic organizations. With a view to covering up the fact that the drive was aimed at democratic organizations, Truman’s order placed the Communist and other democratic organizations on a level with fascist organizations. The order required 2,300,000 U.S.A. civil servants to undergo examination by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Needless to say, this order will least of all affect the fascist and semi-fascist elements, who often occupy quite important posts in the U.S.A. It will be directed and wholly operated against the progressive and democratic elements in the country.

Such are the facts that supply us with a picture of the state of present-day American “dollar democracy.” Formally the democratic freedoms are exalted and propagated. Actually they exist merely for those who have the dollars. Formally the praises are sung, in a hundred and one different ways, of “freedom of speech,” “freedom of the press,” and “freedom of assembly.” Actually these freedoms are enjoyed, and enjoyed without limit, by the reactionary circles and organizations that are supported by the magnates of finance capital. As to the progressive organizations, personalities, and press, every possible obstacle is raised to prevent them developing their activity.

And what can be said of the reactionary and expansionist policy that is being conducted by American imperialism behind a smoke screen of talk about democracy? The American imperialists are giving every possible support to the reactionary elements in Japan; the imperialists of the U.S.A. and Great Britain are lending their aid to all the reactionary elements in Europe, the Near and Middle East, Greece and Turkey. The American imperialists are actively assisting Chiang Kai-shek’s fascist clique in their war on the Chinese people. The troops of “democratic” Holland, supported by the British and Americans, are suppressing the struggle for national liberation in Indonesia.

In November 1918, Lenin pointed out, in an article entitled “Valuable Admissions of Pitirim Sorokin,” that “… Anglo-American imperialism, which is reinstating reaction all over the world and has perfectly learned how to use the form of the democratic republic”[†††] is stifling the small and weak nations.

This characterization, as given by Lenin, is fully applicable today to the policy of the reactionary circles of the U.S.A. and Great Britain.

With the connivance of the Labour Government the fascist organizations in England are freely extending their disruptive activities. Mosley, one of the leaders of British fascism, has his own publishing establishment. In 1946 he published his book My Answer, which even the Conservative Lord Elibank compared to Hitler’s Mein Kampf. A number of fascist organizations, like the Duchess of Atholl’s British League for European Freedom, have been established and are operating in England. This latter organization gathers together the fascist and Whiteguard dregs from the People’s Democracies. Other fascist organizations, like the British People’s Party, the League of Christian Reformers, and the Imperial Fascist League openly and systematically propagate racial theories of the wildest type. All these organizations have combined in a fascist “congress.” At a meeting held in London on December 10, 1946, and convened by the fascist “congress,” John Beckett cynically and brazenly extolled the Nazi Party and its bandit policy.

And such statements are being made openly now, after all freedom-loving mankind has seen that fascism means the enslavement and extermination of nations, the destruction of the world’s culture!

The fascist elements are openly renewing their activity in South Africa, where the machinery of state is being fascised, racial discrimination is practised, raids are made on workers’ organizations, and their leaders are arrested. All these things are being done by the South African Government, which is headed by fascist, racialist politicians.

The fascist party has been legalized in Canada. The leader of this party, Adrien Arcand, recently declared that fascism in Canada was stronger now than ever before. He maintains contact with the fascists in Great Britain, the Union of South Africa, New Zealand, and elsewhere.

The historical experience of the bourgeois-democratic countries teaches us that to give the fascists a free hand means to doom the working people to oppression of the worst kind, to threaten the very existence of the peoples. To give the enemies of democracy a free hand is not democracy but the negation of it. To give a free hand to the enemies of democracy is to create favourable conditions for the growth of fascism.

The time has passed when the doors of Great Britain were open to revolutionary refugees from various countries, when such men as Marx, Engels, Herzen, Kossuth, and Mazzini could conduct their activities relatively unhindered. On the contrary, England – the very England where the Labour Party, which considers itself to be a veritable buttress of democracy, is in power – gives sanctuary to the most reactionary fascist and pro-fascist elements, who have been flung out of their countries by the regimes of People’s Democracy.

The Chetniks of Yugoslavia, and the Rumanian, Polish and Bulgarian Whiteguards have found a haven and a “pleasant reception” in Great Britain. This fascist scum, these worst enemies of the people are given facilities in England to hold meetings, to publish their filthy newssheets, to engage in provocative machinations, to stir up trouble and to conduct disruptive work. And all this is done supposedly in pursuance of the principles of democracy, in the name of “freedom of speech,” “freedom of the press,” etc. Is any more obvious proof required of the deep deficiencies and cankers of present-day bourgeois democracy?

The defeat of the Conservatives and the advent to power of the Labour Government were a reflection of the fact that the working masses of England had moved considerably to the left. In voting down the policy of Churchill and the Tories, the British working class hoped that with the Labour Party in power a considerable change in government policy would result. Such change, however, did not ensue. The actual fact is that Great Britain, where the Labour Party is in power, is engaged in suppressing the movements for national liberation in India, Egypt, Indonesia, Palestine and other countries, in supporting the forces of reaction in Europe – in Greece, Spain, the western zone of Germany, Austria and other countries.

The Labour Party leaders consider theirs to be a socialist government, but they have kept intact the old, bourgeois machinery of state which is unable to conduct anything other than an imperialist policy. They have kept intact the economic system of capitalism. The nationalization of the mining and certain other industries in England does not abolish the domination of British monopoly capital, while the imperialist policy of the British Government is a sufficiently clear indication of the character of present-day bourgeois democracy in Great Britain.

* * *

Soviet democracy differs fundamentally from bourgeois democracy.

Born in October 1917, Soviet socialist democracy has proved to be a great, vital and transforming force. The victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution meant that the epoch of the parliamentarism of the capitalists had been replaced by an epoch of Soviet institutions of state.

What are the specific features of Soviet democracy?

Firstly, its economic basis is the predominance of the social ownership of the means of production. The victory of Socialism in our country, the absence of exploiting classes – such is the basis on which socialist democracy is flourishing. It is a democracy that differs in principle from bourgeois democracy. Socialist democracy is democracy of a higher type.

For the first time in history there has grown up and acquired strength a Socialist State in which the entire population has been drawn into active participation in the country’s political life; for the first time a political system has developed and become firmly established under which the widest masses of the people really, and not in words alone, take part in administering the State.

Secondly, Soviet democracy is not ordinary democracy, but socialist democracy. The specific feature of the Constitution of the U.S.S.R. is that it does not limit itself to registering the formal rights of citizens, but places the main emphasis on the question of guaranteeing these rights. In the U.S.S.R. not only is the equality of the rights of citizens proclaimed – this equality of rights is guaranteed by the fact of the abolition of the exploitation of man by man. In the U.S.S.R. not only has the right to work been proclaimed – this right is guaranteed in fact. Socialist democracy has put an end, once and for all, to formal bourgeois democracy.

Thirdly, Soviet democracy is now based on the complete moral and political unity that has been achieved in Soviet society. The moral and political unity of the Soviet people – the result of the elimination of the exploiting classes in our country and of the enormous amount of educational work done by the Bolshevik Party – is a supreme achievement of our time. Under capitalism, where society is split into warring classes, the unity of society is unthinkable. The moral and political unity of the people, which came into being as a result of the victory of Socialism in our country, is a motive force of the development of Soviet society, an expression of genuine socialist democracy and a condition of its further vigorous growth.

Fourthly, a specific feature of Soviet socialist democracy is that the leading force in our country, the vanguard of the people, is the Bolshevik Party, the Party of Lenin and Stalin. The fact that a single, united Party exists which is leading forward the peoples of the Soviet Union and giving best expression to their interests is a subject of countless attacks on Soviet democracy by bourgeois publicists. In the view of the apologists of bourgeois democracy, the existence in a given country of a number of parties and the struggle that goes on between them constitute one of the fundamental features of democracy, whereas the absence of such a struggle in the Soviet Union and the existence of only one party prove, so they aver, that our democracy is defective. But these upholders of bourgeois democracy deliberately gloss over the fact that in bourgeois society, split, as it is, into classes with their antagonistic class interests, and torn by the struggle between various social groups, the existence of a number of warring parties is inevitable. These individuals, moreover, maintain silence about the fact that there is no difference in principle between the Republican and the Democratic parties in the U.S.A. They are actually one party. They are two factions of the bourgeoisie, which take turns in oppressing the people.

In Soviet society, which is free of class antagonisms, there is no basis for a number of ‘ parties; there is one party and it best reflects the interests of the people. The Bolshevik Party is a party that deservedly enjoys the undivided confidence of the people, for it has proved in practice its self-sacrificing devotion to the people and its ability to lead them in their great historical enterprise.

As far back as the year 1936, Comrade Stalin said: “As to freedom for various political parties, we adhere to somewhat different views. A party is a part of a class, its most advanced part. Several parties, and, consequently, freedom for parties, can exist only in a society in which there are antagonistic classes whose interests are mutually hostile and irreconcilable – in which there are, say, capitalists and workers, landlords and peasants, kulaks and poor peasants, etc. But in the U.S.S.R. there are no longer such classes as the capitalists, the landlords, the kulaks, etc. In the U.S.S.R. there are only two classes, workers and peasants, whose interests – far from being mutually hostile – are, on the contrary, friendly. Hence, there is no ground in the U.S.S.R. for the existence of several parties and, consequently, for freedom for these parties. In the U.S.S.R. there is ground only for one Party, the Communist Party. In the U.S.S.R. only one party can exist, the Communist Party, which courageously defends the interests of the workers and peasants to the very end. And that it defends the interests of these classes not at all badly, of that there can hardly be any doubt.”[‡‡‡]

In the shape of the Soviet State we have a political organization of society that is millions of times more democratic than the most democratic bourgeois republic. “Only Soviet Russia” – wrote Lenin – “has given the proletariat, and all working folk – the overwhelming majority of the people of Russia – a freedom and democracy unparalleled, impossible and unthinkable in any bourgeois-democratic republic; it has done so by, for example, depriving the bourgeoisie of palaces and mansions (without this, freedom of assembly is hypocrisy), by depriving the capitalists of the printing presses and newsprint (without this freedom of the press for the working majority of the nation is a fraud) and by replacing bourgeois parliamentarism by the democratic organization of the Soviets, which are a thousand times closer to the ‘people,’ more ‘democratic’ than the most democratic bourgeois parliament.”[§§§]

Already on the eve of the October Revolution, when elaborating the theoretical principles of the Soviet State, Lenin pointed out that the Soviets, as the state form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, constitute a new type of state machinery, an apparatus providing an indissoluble, close, easily tested and renewed link with the popular masses such as the former state apparatus never possessed in the remotest degree. “Compared with bourgeois parliamentarism,” said Lenin, “this represents an advance in the development of democracy which is of historical and world-wide significance.”[****]

The Soviet state system best serves to defend and guarantee the interests of the peoples of the U.S.S.R. That is why the masses of the people have so great a love for the Soviet system, why they are so devoted to their Socialist Motherland, which inspires them to perform deeds of heroism. Soviet patriotism is one of the great motive forces of the development of Soviet society. During the Great Patriotic War, the patriotism of the workers, peasants and intelligentsia was displayed in all its titanic might.

In his report on the occasion of the 27th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, Comrade Stalin gave the following classic definition of the essence and the strength of Soviet patriotism:

“The strength of Soviet patriotism lies in the fact that it is based not on racial or nationalistic prejudices, but upon the profound devotion and loyalty of the people to their Soviet Motherland, on the fraternal cooperation of the working people of all the nations inhabiting our country. Soviet patriotism is a harmonious blend of the national traditions of the peoples and the common vital interests of all the working people of the Soviet Union.”[††††]

The proposition advanced here by Comrade Stalin, which generalizes the very rich experience of the friendly cooperation among the nations of the Soviet Union, and of the development of their statehood and culture, is one of the outstanding discoveries made in the development of Leninist theory and is of the greatest importance as regards the political education of the people, as regards their education in the spirit of Soviet patriotism.

Soviet patriotism has grown and blossomed forth under Soviet democracy. Just as Soviet socialist democracy is a higher type of democracy differing fundamentally from the old forms of bourgeois democracy, so Soviet patriotism is a new and higher type of patriotism. Its source is the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the construction of Socialism in our country. Soviet patriotism develops on a new social and economic foundation, on the basis of new social relations.

The Soviet State has shown, and continues to show, itself to be a tremendous transforming force. The transformations that have been effected in the U.S.S.R. and that have, in a brief historical period, turned our native land into a mighty industrial and kolkhoz power, show how great are the forces that Soviet socialist democracy can rouse, mobilize and direct for creative endeavour. Soviet democracy showed itself to be a great force in the building of socialist society, in the defence of the Socialist Homeland against the fascist invaders, and is a powerful factor facilitating the further onward march of Soviet society, towards Communism.

The entire system of organization of the Soviet State is adapted to raising the creative energy of the popular masses to the maximum degree for the solution of the tasks of socialist construction. In the U.S.S.R., for the first time in human history, millions upon millions of the common people have been drawn into conscious political activity, into the building of the new, Communist society, and the mighty energy of the people has been aroused. “The living creative work of the masses,” Lenin said, “is what constitutes the main factor of the new social order.”[‡‡‡‡]

Gorky, in his novel Mother, makes one of his characters say the following words: “Russia will be the finest democracy in the world.” This dream of the great proletarian writer has found its living embodiment in our country.

One of the basic illustrations of the genuinely popular character of Soviet democracy is the fact that the masses of the people play a real part in administering the State, that no barrier exists in our country between the machinery of state and the people. The creative initiative of the masses, the pulsating activity of public organizations, the ever new forms of participation by the working people in economic and cultural development, the political activity of the people – all these are remarkable indexes of the great Soviet democracy existing in the U.S.S.R. It is the popular masses – those who in the most democratic bourgeois republics formally possess equal rights but actually are prevented from participating in the administration of the State – who under the Soviet system are drawn “unfailingly into constant and, moreover, decisive participation in the democratic administration of the state.”[§§§§] The main process taking place in our country in the upbuilding of the Soviet State is that of the constantly growing political activity of the popular masses, of the continuous promotion from the very midst of the people of new individuals possessed of organizing capacity, new men of talent, outstanding statesmen.

Since the adoption in 1936 of the Stalin Constitution, elections in the U.S.S.R. to the organs of supreme power have taken place on four occasions, viz.: twice to the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., and twice to the Supreme Soviets of the Union Republics.

In 1937, in the elections to the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., 96.8 per cent of the electors recorded their votes, and the candidates put forward by the bloc of Communists and non-Party people received 98.6 per cent of the total votes cast. Almost 90 million people voted solidly at that time for the bloc of Communists and non-Party people.

In 1938, in the elections to the Supreme Soviets of the Union Republics, the bloc of Communists and non-Party people received the votes of 99.4 per cent of electors who voted.

In 1946, in the elections to the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., 99.7 per cent of the electors recorded their votes, and the candidates put forward by the bloc of Communists and non-party people received 99.18 per cent of the total votes cast. Over 100 million electors voted as one man for the Bolshevik Party, and for the further consolidation of the Soviet State.

In the early part of 1947 there took place the elections to the Supreme Soviets of the Union Republics. The results constitute a further splendid victory for Soviet democracy, as the following figures will show:

What do these figures show?

Firstly, that in the Soviet Union practically all the electors, with absolutely insignificant exceptions, exercise their voting rights. This is testimony to the high level of civic consciousness, to the tremendous political activity of the masses of the people. The working folk of the Soviet Union take part in the elections as in some great festive event. Such a state of affairs is absolutely unthinkable in bourgeois society; it is the product of the victory of Socialism, and of that alone.

The entire system of organization of the elections – from the consistent, thoroughly democratic method by which our public organizations nominate candidates, and the method by which candidatures are discussed, to the provision of all the conditions necessary to enable each elector to fulfil his civic duty, wherever he may be when the elections take place – this entire system of organization of the elections is marked from beginning to end by genuine Stalinist love for the working people, by concern for their interests and requirements, by the striving to ensure that the masses are drawn to the maximum degree into the actual administration of the State.

Secondly, that with absolutely insignificant exceptions, all the electors who record their votes cast them for the bloc of Communists and non-Party people. This complete unanimity displayed in the voting is an expression of the complete moral and political unity of the people, a unity of the people such as is created and consolidated by the socialist system of society. The people stand forth as a single whole, in the real sense of the term.

In the Stalin constituency of Moscow where on February 9, 1947, the candidate in the election of the Deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic was J. V. Stalin, 100 per cent of the electors recorded their votes. Not a single one of the ballot papers was invalid, neither did a single one of them register rejection of the candidate. J. V. Stalin was unanimously elected Deputy. The working people of all the Union and Autonomous Republics unanimously nominated Comrade Stalin as their No. 1 candidate in the elections of Deputies to their Supreme Soviets. Comrade Stalin is the elected representative of the entire Soviet people, a fact that splendidly reflects the unity of will and purpose of the Soviet people.

The name of Comrade Stalin is the symbol and banner of this unity. All our victories are bound up indissolubly with the name of Comrade Stalin. It is characteristic that as Soviet electors voted for Comrade Stalin, they wrote on the ballot papers messages full of ardent love for their leader and teacher. They voted for the man who is leading the Soviet people on to Communism, who is the embodiment of the hopes and strivings of all the nations of the U.S.S.R.

During the elections the Soviet people showed with renewed vigour that they stand solid behind the Party of Lenin and Stalin, that they are supremely devoted to the interests of the Socialist Motherland.

Only in the Land of Socialism, where socialist democracy prevails, where the gains we have achieved are inscribed in letters of gold in the Stalin Constitution is there such a manifestation of civic consciousness and patriotism. Such unity in voting, such a manifestation of organization and unanimity in the election of candidates are possible only in Soviet society, where the people are free from all forms of exploitation whatsoever. Only the complete moral and political unity of the people renders possible such unanimity as is displayed in the voting during the elections to the supreme organs of the Soviet Union.

The Communist Party – the force that inspires, guides and directs the Soviet State – comes to the masses with a clear program for the development of the country, and in clear-cut terms defines the tasks facing the people. This program best expresses the interests of the people, their hopes and strivings. The Communist Party does all it can to ensure that every elector acquires a better and more profound understanding of its policy, which is the living basis of the Soviet system, that every elector takes an active part in discussing problems of State, and votes with full understanding for the bloc of Communists and non-Party people. As Lenin said: “In our view a state is strong in so far as the masses are conscious. It is strong when the masses know everything, can form an opinion of everything, and do everything consciously.”[*****]

In his historic speech delivered on February 9, 1946, Comrade Stalin said: “I regard the election campaign as the voters’ judgment of the Communist Party as the ruling party. The result of the election will be the voters’ verdict.”[†††††] The elections in the Soviet Union are a repeated indication of the love felt by the masses for the Bolshevik Party. The masses of the people in the Soviet Union, to whom the Bolshevik Party is near and dear, voluntarily entrust their destinies to it, for practical experience has convinced them that the Party of Lenin and Stalin has no interests other than those of the people, and has no tasks other than those of leading the people onward, towards an ever better life, to Communism. The Bolshevik Party gives scientific expression to the fundamental, vital interests of the masses of the people, and this is the necessary condition that ensures it the leading role it plays in the Soviet State. Comrade Stalin has spoken of the “subtle moral threads” that bind the Party to those outside its ranks, of the profound trust in the Party and its leadership felt by the popular masses of the Soviet Union. This, it is, that finds expression in the bloc of Communists and non-Party people at the elections to the organs of the Soviet State. Comrade Stalin has said: “There is not, nor has there ever been in the world such a powerful and authoritative government as our Soviet government. There is not, nor has there ever been in the world such a powerful and authoritative Party as our Communist Party.”[‡‡‡‡‡]

The elections in the Soviet Union are a great schooling in political activity, a manifestation of supreme political activity on the part of the people. Hundreds of thousands of active workers, agitators and propagandists, many tens of thousands of members of Ward and Constituency Electoral Commissions, and of electors’ representatives take part in the election campaigns. The elections are the occasion for a countrywide review by the people of achievements and successes and also for a criticism of the defects of the work of the various parts of the machinery of state. Countless meetings take place at which affairs of state, and candidatures, are discussed. In the political work it conducts in preparation for the elections the Communist Party reaches every single elector. As a result we can say that there has developed a new form of political life, unthinkable in bourgeois countries, a form of participation by the entire people in the discussion of affairs of state, in the solution of most important problems of state. Socialism has elaborated such forms as enable all the working people easily to be drawn into the administration of the State.

Such facts as the solid vote of over 99 per cent of the electors for the candidates of the bloc of Communists and non-Party people, for the policy of the Party of Lenin and Stalin, are events of the greatest historical importance. In events and facts such as these we see the remarkable results of the work done by the Bolshevik Party.

Much energy has been expended by bourgeois students of law and statecraft to prove the thesis that “real government by the people” is altogether impossible, that it is inevitable for representative bodies to lose touch with the people, that even the very best representative bodies in the last analysis degenerate. It has been asserted that it is impossible to give effect to democracy in a large country. Rousseau, as is well known, upheld in his Contrat Social the thesis that real democracy is only possible in a small country where all citizens can take a personal part in discussing affairs of state.

Under the bourgeois system, where a struggle takes place between antagonistic classes, real government by the people is impossible. But that which is unthinkable and impossible under capitalism, is thinkable, possible and actually effected under Socialism.

In his works preliminary to The State and Revolution Lenin, even before the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution, wrote that under Socialism there would be complete, universal and unlimited democracy. This, he said, would be “the sort of new type of ‘direct popular legislation’ that Engels rejected under capitalism.”[§§§§§]

These views of Lenin about a new type of democracy based on the predominance of the social ownership of the means of production, have been fully implemented in the actual life of our country.

One of the striking indexes of the majesty of Soviet democracy is the complete equality of rights exercised by women in the Soviet State. Lenin said that woman’s position in society shows particularly clearly the difference between bourgeois and socialist democracy.

There is not a single bourgeois-democratic country in the world where women enjoy full equality of rights. In bourgeois countries women either play no part at all, or participate to a limited degree, in public and political life; female labour there is exploited and counted as the very cheapest. The proportion of female labour employed in the more important branches of industry, in the leading professions and in the different branches of culture, is negligible. Not a single bourgeois republic has given women equality with man, either formally or in fact.

The picture is absolutely different in the U.S.S.R. In the Soviet State women enjoy all rights to the full, on a par with men. They take a most active part in the economic, political and cultural life of the country, and fully and comprehensively display their creative abilities in the most diverse spheres of socialist construction. The history of the development of the Soviet State has shown what an enormous number of talented people, and of individuals with a capacity for organization are to be found among the masses of working women. Women occupy a place of honour everywhere in our country – in the kolkhozes and in industry, in all spheres of culture and science, in political and public organizations – and side by side with the menfolk are fulfilling the tasks facing the Soviet Land. “The unprecedented labour heroism,” said Comrade Stalin on November 6, 1944, in characterizing the part played by the women during the war, “displayed by our Soviet women and our valiant youth, who have borne the brunt of the burden in our factories and mills and in our collective and state farms, will go down in history for ever.”[******]

An index of the genuinely socialist character of our democracy is the fact that the national question has been successfully solved in the U.S.S.R. For the first time in the history of multinational states, the national question and the problem of cooperation among nations have been solved in the Soviet Union – the Land of Socialism. As is well known, the national question is an exceptionally complicated one. Under capitalism it is impossible to solve the national question. The existence of capitalism without the suppression of nationalities, without national oppression is just as impossible as is the existence of Socialism without the abolition of national oppression, without national freedom. The experience of Austria-Hungary, and of Turkey, and the instability of the present British Empire are the most palpable evidence of how unstable are bourgeois multinational states.

The solution of the national question in the U.S.S.R. is one of the supreme achievements of our age. The results of the October Socialist Revolution have shown themselves not only in the abolition of national oppression in our country, but also in the fact that there have been elaborated the forms of state which solve the national question, forms which unite the various nationalities into a single multinational Soviet State, distinguished by its stability and invincibility.

The beneficent influence of the October Socialist Revolution and of Soviet democracy has also been expressed in the fact that they have awakened to life and brought into the historical arena a number of formerly backward nations and nationalities, given them new life and new development. Formerly nations arose and became consolidated under the supremacy of the bourgeoisie. This resulted in two national cultures existing within each nation, and lent the dominant national culture an exploiting, nationalistic character.

The inexhaustible strength of the Soviet system and of Soviet democracy is expressed in the fact that many nationalities in our country are being consolidated as nations not under the aegis of the bourgeois order, as was formerly the case, but under the aegis of Soviet rule. Comrade Stalin has described this as a fact unexampled in history, but a fact nonetheless. It is a new process, never known before to history, and one that it could not know. It is a new phenomenon, one that has developed under the Soviet order, on the basis of the Soviet system, in the new social and political conditions where there is no exploitation or oppression. These are nations that have been revived by the conditions of the Soviet system. The culture being developed by these nations is – as is the case with all the nations of the Soviet Union – a culture national in form and socialist in content.

The experience of the construction of Soviet socialist society shows, therefore, that Socialism does not at all imply the immediate dying-off of nations, as many vulgarizers of Marxism would have had us believe, but the development to the full of the inner potentialities of nations on a basis quite different from that of the conditions of the bourgeois system.

The majesty of Soviet democracy is mirrored in the fact that previously-backward nationalities are being raised economically and culturally to the level of the more advanced ones. For the first time in the history of multinational states the central authority has resolutely and consistently carried through a system of measures aimed at achieving real equality among nations, thereby doing away with the previous economic, political and cultural backwardness of the formerly oppressed nations and nationalities, and raising them to the level of the advanced nations. In this regard, too, is there manifested the fundamental difference between Soviet democracy and bourgeois democracy.

Under capitalism the line is systematically pursued of keeping the oppressed nations backward, of artificially holding up their industrial and cultural development, of ruthlessly exploiting them. Under Soviet democracy a planned system of measures is operated, aimed at raising the formerly oppressed and backward peoples to the level of the advanced ones. It is hard to appraise fully the world-historic significance of this fact. The formerly oppressed nationalities have seen the practical application of the great emancipatory principles of Bolshevik policy in the sphere of the national question. Soviet democracy means that the national oppression that has existed for centuries has been replaced by the great amity among the peoples of the U.S.S.R., an amity that marks a new era in the development of inter-national relations.

The Russian people, said Comrade Stalin, “is the most outstanding of all the nations that constitute the Soviet Union.” As a consequence of the great part played by the Russian people in October 1917, and then during the war against the foreign interventionists and Whiteguards, and during the years of peaceful construction; as a consequence of the epoch-making role played by the Russian nation during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, it earned general recognition among all the other nations of our country as the leading force of the Soviet Union.

Characterizing the bourgeois federations and diverse states that exist under capitalism, Comrade Stalin has pointed out that in the main they took shape as a result of violence and oppression, that the course of their development was marked by repeated acts of violence and oppression. Even the revolutionary French bourgeoisie of the end of the XVIII century, who in their Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen proclaimed that all men are born equal and hence should enjoy equal rights – even they considered it necessary to record the point in the Constitution of 1791 that “the present Constitution does not apply to French colonies and possessions in Asia, Africa, and America, although they constitute part of the French Empire.” And such a federal state as the United States of America, which boasts of the freedom possessed by its states, took final shape not as a result of voluntary union at all, but of the application of numerous measures for the forcible consolidation of the Union, for the forcible incorporation of many states.

In 1803 the United States of America purchased Louisiana from France, in 1819 it purchased Florida from Spain, and in 1845, as a result of war with Mexico, forcibly incorporated Texas, and so on. All this has little in common with the voluntary union of states to which such loud references are made by the apologists of American democracy. James Bryce, the well-known authority on the American republic, once wrote that while the victory won by the North in the war of 1861-1865 was progressive in the sense that it did away with slavery, it was at the same time a warning against any attempt by the states to secede from the Union, so that it was not even considered necessary to introduce in the U.S.A. constitution clauses denying the right of the states to secede from the Union.

A fundamentally different principle on which a federal state is based – that of genuinely voluntary federation – is expressed in the Stalin Constitution. To enable the reader to understand the essence of socialist democracy, the great importance of the principles followed by the Bolshevik Party in the building of our multinational Soviet State, it is important to indicate the thesis developed by Comrade Stalin concerning the reservation of the right of the Union Republics freely to secede from the U.S.S.R. In his speech on the Constitution, where he rejected amendments the purpose of which was to delete from the Constitution the article dealing with this point, Comrade Stalin stated: “The U.S.S.R. is a voluntary union of Union Republics with equal rights. To delete from the Constitution the article providing for the right of free secession from the U.S.S.R. would be to violate the voluntary character of this union.”[††††††] As Comrade Stalin pointed out, there is not a single republic in our country that would want to secede from the U.S.S.R., but inasmuch as the U.S.S.R. is based on a voluntary union of the peoples, a clause is recorded in the Constitution stressing this voluntary character of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Comrade Stalin pointed out further that not only should formal proclamation be made of the right to secede from the Union, but matters should be so arranged that this right is not turned into an empty, meaningless scrap of paper. That is why one of the three qualifications for an Autonomous Republic to be transferred to the category of Union Republic is that it is situated along the country’s borders. Comrade Stalin said that “…the Republic concerned must be a border republic, not surrounded on all sides by U.S.S.R. territory. Why? Because since the Union Republics have the right to secede from the U.S.S.R., a republic, on becoming a Union Republic, must be in a position logically and actually to raise the question of secession from the U.S.S.R. And this question can be raised only by a republic which, say, borders on some foreign state, and, consequently, is not surrounded on all sides by U.S.S.R. territory.”[‡‡‡‡‡‡]

There is no republic in our country desirous of seceding from the U.S.S.R. Only as component parts of the U.S.S.R. have our national republics secured the conditions requisite for their development on an unparalleled scale. Only with the aid of the entire Union have the different republics risen to enormous heights and secured the most extensive facilities for their prosperous growth. The principles proclaimed in the Constitution regarding the voluntary character of the union and the equality of the rights possessed by the Union Republics are guaranteed by the conditions that actually exist for this voluntary union and enjoyment of equal rights.

Is a clearer expression required of the principles of socialist democracy embodied in the Stalin Constitution?

Only socialist democracy fully and thoroughly solves the problem of fraternal collaboration among nations in a single multinational Soviet State. It is only such a solution of the problem that has created the stability and steadfastness, the firmness and might which distinguish the Soviet multinational State.

The Tenth Session of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., which took place from January 28 to February 1, 1944 – when the Patriotic War was at its height – adopted decisions of exceptionally great importance, which constituted a new advance in the development of our multinational Soviet Socialist State. The Session adopted laws for the establishment of military formations of the Union Republics, and in this connection for the transformation of the People’s Commissariat of Defence from an all-Union into a Union-Republican People’s Commissariat (now Ministry); and for the endowment of the Union Republics with the right to enter into direct relations with foreign powers and to conclude treaties with them; and in this connection for the transformation of the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs from an all-Union into a Union-Republican People’s Commissariat (now Ministry). All this became possible and necessary as a result of the political, economic and cultural development of the Union Republics. These new achievements in the development of the Soviet State were, by decision of the Third Session of the Second Convocation of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. held in 1947, embodied in the Stalin Constitution.

* * *

Such are the most important and characteristic features of Soviet socialist democracy. The strength and vitality of Soviet democracy have been tested by experience. A great and leading role has been played by Soviet democracy in the struggle against fascism. Now, in the post-war period, Soviet socialist democracy is in the van of all the progressive forces in the world waging the struggle against the reactionary elements, against the new warmongers, against those who wish to maintain and revive fascism. That is why Soviet socialist democracy meets with such sympathy, endorsement and admiration among all the progressive forces of the world.

Having emerged with honour from all the difficulties and trials of the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet people are now engaged in a self-sacrificing struggle to rehabilitate and further develop the economy of the U.S.S.R., to fulfill and overfulfill the new Stalin Five-Year Plan. One of the clearest indexes of the strength and vitality of Soviet socialist democracy is the fact that Soviet people, led by the Bolshevik Party, are making a reality of the task set by Stalin, namely, that of bringing about a rapid rise of the national economy.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This pamphlet is a translation of an essay published in the symposium Soviet Socialist Society prepared by the Institute of Philosophy of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. and published by the Gospolitizdat, Moscow 1949.

 

[*] J. V. Stalin, Speech Delivered at an Election Meeting in the Stalin Election District, Moscow, February 9, 1946. Moscow 1946, p. 10.

[†] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. ed., Vol. XXIII, p. 346.

[‡] V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Two-Vol. ed., Vol. II, Moscow 1947, p. 535.

[§] J. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Moscow 1947, p. 551.

[**] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. od., Vol. XXIII, p. 220.

[††] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. ed., Vol. XXVI, p. 423.

[‡‡] K. Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Moscow 1948, p. 34.

[§§] V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Two-Vol. ed., Vol. II, Moscow 1947, p. 374.

[***] Ramsay Muir, How Britain Is Governed, p. 168.

[†††] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. ed., Vol. XXIII, p. 293.

[‡‡‡] J. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Moscow 1947, p. 557.

[§§§] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. ed., Vol. XXIII, p. 221.

[****] V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Twelve-Vol. ed., Vol. VI, Moscow-Leningrad, p. 264.

[††††] J. V. Stalin, On the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, Moscow 1940, p. 165.

[‡‡‡‡] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. ed., Vol. XXII, p. 45.

[§§§§] V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Twelve-Vol. ed., Vol. VII, Moscow-Leningrad, p. 231.

[*****] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. ed., Vol. XXII, pp. 18-19.

[†††††] J. V. Stalin, Speech Delivered at an Election Meeting in the Stalin Election District, Moscow, February 9, 1946.Moscow 1946, p. 10.

[‡‡‡‡‡] J. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Moscow 1947, p. 438.

[§§§§§] V. I. Lenin, Marxism About the State, Russ. ed., Moscow 1934, p. 77.

[******] J. V. Stalin, On the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, Moscow 1946, pp. 164-65.

[††††††] J. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Moscow 1947, p. 561.

[‡‡‡‡‡‡] J. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Moscow 1947, p. 562.

Source

May Day Statement of the Party of Labour Iran (Toufan)

Hail May 1st, The International Workers’ Day !

—————————–

May Day Statement of the Party of Labour Iran (Toufan)

May 1, the day of unity and solidarity of the working class all over the world, is upon us at a time when the Western imperialists headed by the U.S. imperialism, with the adoption of policy of invasion, of violation of the Charter of the United Nations and even without the consent of the United Nations Security Council, and against the will of overwhelming majority of the countries of the world, have created a new world order reminiscent of the old colonial times. The U.S. imperialism, the number one enemy of the mankind and the biggest state terrorism in the world, neither recognizes the right to self-determination nor accepts independence nor respect the territorial integrity of nations. The imperialists do not recognize any international agreement that opposes or restricts their interests. They occupy or violate the airspace of countries and act like criminal bandits and kill civilians, without being held accountable. The U.S. imperialists want to impose the decisions of their Congress, that is, their legal system, on all countries of the world. They have brought all foreign exchanges and payment services under their control in order to bully nations. Among others, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Syria, Libya, Palestine and Yemen are the victims of this inhuman policy. The renewed bombardment of Syria that is ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump is a serious warning signal for endangering the world peace and for the possible beginning of a bloody world war.

In Iran, the capitalist regime of the Islamic Republic continues to oppress the working class. The workers’ just demands for the formation of independent trade unions, for work, bread and freedom, for job security, against privatization, and against mass dismissals are met with arrest, imprisonment and torture. Though the social expert groups estimate the minimum living cost of a 3.5-member family to be near two million and 489 thousand Tuman per month (about $750) , the ” High Council of Labour” has set the minimum wage of 930 thousand Tuman ( $270)! This is a further step in the implementation of neoliberal policies, to meet the demands of the International Monetary Fund, to provide cheap labor and to increase the rate of capitalist profit. According to the statements made by the official press, more than 80% of Iranian workers now live under the poverty line.

The implementation of the bill of “Target Subsidiaries”, has worsened the living condition of the working class. Only the united struggle of the workers and labourers under the leadership of their working class party can emancipate the people from the yoke of capitalist slavery.

………..

The Party of Labour of Iran is boycotting the Presidential elections in Iran. There is no legitimacy in the criminal regime of the Islamic Republic for which the Iranian officials are trying to display through elections.

We celebrate May 1st this year with the knowledge that the Great October Socialist Revolution took place 100 years ago, the first revolution which established the dictatorship of the proletariat and the real democracy for workers and toilers, and opened a new horizon to mankind. The revolution was realized under the red flag of Lenin. The Bolshevik Party under Lenin’s leadership, and later under the leadership of Stalin, had defended the achievements of the October Revolution.

………

For liberation from destructive bloody wars, for elimination of the nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, for the realization of genuine human rights, liberation from exploitation, poverty, unemployment and economic misery, there is no other path but the path of socialist revolution under the leadership of the working class.

Long live proletarian internationalism!

Down with the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran!

Long live socialism!

May 1, 2017

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan)

www.toufan.org

ICMLPO May Day Statement

FOR A MAY DAY OF UNITY AND STRUGGLE AGAINST NATIONALISM, RACISM, FASCISM AND THE POLICY OF WAR

LET’S RAISE THE FLAG OF THE PROLETARIAN INTERNATIONALISM!

Workers, labourers, young people, women and oppressed people of all countries!

The long period of poor economic growth and the increasing political instability bring out more sharply the contradictions that lacerate the capitalistic world.

Although weakened by its general and periodical crises, this system capitalist-imperialist is still strong; unless we unite and organise to combat and bring it down this decaying system will endure maintaining its exploitative and extortionist character. Nevertheless, the bases on which it is built are rotten and its contradictions sharpening; the attacks on international working class and oppressed peoples are escalating. As a result of this situation today we see:

 – The strengthening of the struggle for the markets, the protectionism, the commercial and currency disputes, the emergence of nationalism in the economic politics that embitter the problems among the imperialists and capitalistic countries, especially between USA, EU, China and Russia.

 – The intensification of the policy of war, the increase in military expenditure and the arms race. The imperialist powers and financial monopolies, in fierce rivalry between them, advance in the pillaging of resources of dependent countries. The possibility of a new World War is stirring in the Middle East. In Syria these contradictions are manifested clearly, and in the Asia-Pacific regions the imperialist arms stocks are piling up.

 – A fierce bourgeois offensive against the working class and the labouring masses, to burden them with the consequences of serious economic difficulties. The capitalists and their governments intensify the exploitation, attack the organisation of the workers, destroy their democratic rights, criminalise social protests and repress fighters of the proletariat.

 – The rise of political reaction and authoritarianism, limitations of bourgeois democracy, increasing of corruption in parties of the dominant classes, the drift towards Police States under the pretext of fighting terrorism and, in some countries, the access to power of extreme right and fascists.

 – An infamous ideological campaign by the most reactionary sectors of bourgeoisie that spread chauvinism, racism and hate against migrants; religious fanaticism, in order to deceive and divide workers and peoples, and strengthen the dominion of capital.

 – The deep crisis of social democracy, social propping of capital, with a great loss of consents, while the populist parties gain the impoverished and disappointed strata with their cynic “social”demagogy and false patriotism.

The bourgeoisie, condemning billions to poverty, hunger and unemployment attempting in this way to delay the inevitable end of its system, imposes neoliberal and reactionary regimes, destroy the environment and prepare new imperialist wars.

But the proletariat and the peoples do not give up, they resist and fight! In the world more and more numerous are the grounds of struggle against capitalistic exploitation,imperialism, its lackeys, its governments and parties. The growth of mass dissatisfaction and resistance against dominant cliques pave the way for new revolutionary waves.

Workers, labourers, young people, women and oppressed people of all countries!

Let’s unite and demonstrate on May Day -day of international solidarity of the proletariat – demanding work, health, education, social services, equal wage for equal work, equality of rights for all the workers!

No more unemployment and precariousness! Let’s demand the reduction of working hours and of the retirement age! ‘No’ to war and fascism, take our countries out of the warmongering alliances, away from the power of the advocates of war, let’s struggle for peace and freedom for our peoples!

Let’s give impetus to the united front of the working class to defend our economic and political interest and to continue the struggle until the demolition of the capitalist exploitation and oppression.

Let’s denounce and oppose the policy of class collaboration promoted by the leaders of social democracy and the trade union bureaucracy, let’s develop the line of organization and the class struggle to mobilize the masses against capital.

It’s necessary to build a broad popular coalition, leaded by the working class; to organize and develop the resistance against the capitalistic offensive, the imperialistic reaction and the politics of war; let’s struggle with the perspective to get it over with the exploiters.

It’s necessary to unite the antifascist, anti-imperialist and democratic youth to conquer a future radically different from the one that capitalists and their opportunist servants want for us.

Now more than ever we must strengthen and develop internationalist solidarity to struggle incessantly against bourgeoisie governments, to get together, to unite the proletariat and the oppressed masses of all countries in order to knock down the common enemy: imperialism!

On May Day everybody get out on streets with our red flags!

International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO)
April, 2017

 

J.V. Stalin: The Prospects of the Revolution in China

Speech Delivered in the Chinese Commission of the E.C.C.I.

November 30, 1926

Comrades, before passing to the subject under discussion, I think it necessary to say that I am not in possession of the exhaustive material on the Chinese question necessary for giving a full picture of the revolution in China. Hence I am compelled to confine myself to some general remarks of a fundamental character that have a direct bearing on the basic trend of the Chinese revolution.

I have the theses of Petrov, the theses of Mif, two reports by Tan Ping-shan and the observations of Rafes on the Chinese question. In my opinion, all these documents, in spite of their merits, suffer from the grave defect that they ignore a number of cardinal questions of the revolution in China. I think it is necessary above all to draw attention to these shortcomings. For this reason my remarks will at the same time be of a critical nature.

I

CHARACTER OF THE REVOLUTION
IN CHINA

Lenin said that the Chinese would soon be having their 1905. Some comrades understood this to mean that there would have to be a repetition among the Chinese of exactly the same thing that took place here in Russia in 1905. That is not true, comrades. Lenin by no means said that the Chinese revolution would be a replica of the 1905 Revolution in Russia. All he said was that the Chinese would have their 1905. This means that, besides the general features of the 1905 Revolution, the Chinese revolution would have its own specific features, which would be bound to lay its special impress on the revolution in China.

What are these specific features?

The first specific feature is that, while the Chinese revolution is a bourgeois-democratic revolution, it is at the same time a revolution of national liberation spearheaded against the domination of foreign imperialism in China. It is in this, above all, that it differs from the 1905 Revolution in Russia. The point is that the rule of imperialism in China is manifested not only in its military might, but primarily in the fact that the main threads of industry in China, the railways, mills and factories, mines, banks, etc., are owned or controlled by foreign imperialists. But it follows from this that the questions of the fight against foreign imperialism and its Chinese agents cannot but play an important role in the Chinese revolution. This fact directly links the Chinese revolution with the revolutions of the proletarians of all countries against imperialism.

The second specific feature of the Chinese revolution is that the national big bourgeoisie in China is weak in the extreme, incomparably weaker than the Russian bourgeoisie was in the period of 1905. That is understandable. Since the main threads of industry are concentrated in the hands of foreign imperialists, the national big bourgeoisie in China cannot but be weak and backward. In this respect Mif is quite right in his remark about the weakness of the national bourgeoisie in China as one of the characteristic facts of the Chinese revolution. But it follows from this that the role of initiator and guide of the Chinese revolution, the role of leader of the Chinese peasantry, must inevitably fall to the Chinese proletariat and its party.

Nor should a third specific feature of the Chinese revolution be overlooked, namely, that side by side with China the Soviet Union exists and is developing, and its revolutionary experience and aid cannot but facilitate the struggle of the Chinese proletariat against imperialism and against medieval and feudal survivals in China.

Such are the principal specific features of the Chinese revolution, which determine its character and trend.

II

IMPERIALISM AND IMPERIALIST
INTERVENTION IN CHINA

The first defect of the theses submitted is that they ignore or underestimate the question of imperialist intervention in China. A study of the theses might lead one to think that the present moment there is, properly speaking, no imperialist intervention in China, that there is only a struggle between Northerners and Southerners, or between one group of generals and another group of generals. Furthermore, there is a tendency to understand by intervention a state of affairs marked by the incursion of foreign troops into Chinese territory, and that if that is not the case, then there is no intervention.

That is a profound mistake, comrades. Intervention is by no means confined to the incursion of troops and the incursion of troops by no means constitutes the principal feature of intervention. In the present-day conditions of the revolutionary movement in the capitalist countries, when the direct incursion of foreign troops may give rise to protests and conflicts, intervention assumes more flexible and more camouflaged forms. In the conditions prevailing today, imperialism prefers to intervene in a dependent country by organising civil war there, by financing counter-revolutionary forces against the revolution, by giving moral and financial support to its Chinese agents against the revolution. The imperialists were inclined to depict the struggle of Denikin and Kolchak, Yudenich and Wrangel against the revolution in Russia as an exclusively internal struggle. But we all knew — and not only we, but the whole world — that behind these counter-revolutionary Russian generals stood the imperialists of Britain and America, France and Japan, without whose support a serious civil war in Russia would have been quite impossible. The same must be said of China. The struggle of Wu Pei-fu, Sun Chuan-fang, Chang Tso-lin and Chang Tsung-chang against the revolution in China would be simply impossible if these counter-revolutionary generals were not instigated by the imperialists of all countries, if the latter did not supply them with money, arms, instructors, “advisers,” etc.

Wherein lies the strength of the Canton troops? In the fact that they are inspired by an ideal, by enthusiasm, in the struggle for liberation from imperialism; in the fact that they are bringing China liberation. Wherein lies the strength of the counter-revolutionary generals in China? In the fact that they are backed by the imperialists of all countries, by the owners of all the railways, concessions, mills and factories, banks and commercial houses in China.

Hence, it is not only, or even not so much, a matter of the incursion of foreign troops, as of the support which the imperialists of all countries are rendering the counter revolutionaries in China. Intervention through the hands of others — that is where the root of imperialist intervention now lies.

Therefore, imperialist intervention in China is an indubitable fact, and it is against this that the Chinese revolution is spearheaded.

Therefore, whoever ignores or underestimates the fact of imperialist intervention in China, ignores or underestimates the chief and most fundamental thing in China.

It is said that the Japanese imperialists are showing certain symptoms of “good will” towards the Cantonese and the Chinese revolution in general. It is said that the American imperialists are not lagging behind the Japanese in this respect. That is self-deception, comrades. One must know how to distinguish between the essence of the policy of the imperialists, including that of the Japanese and American imperialists, and its disguises. Lenin often said that it is hard to impose upon revolutionaries with the club or the fist, but that it is sometimes very easy to take them in with blandishments. That truth of Lenin’s should never be forgotten, comrades. At all events, it is clear that the Japanese and American imperialists have pretty well realised its value. It is therefore necessary to draw a strict distinction between blandishments and praise bestowed on the Cantonese and the fact that the imperialists who are most generous with blandishments are those who cling most tightly to “their” concessions and railways in China, and that they will not consent to relinquish them at any price.

III

THE REVOLUTIONARY ARMY IN CHINA

My second remark in connection with the theses submitted concerns the question of the revolutionary army in China. The fact of the matter is that the question of the army is ignored or underestimated in the theses. (A voice from the audience : “Quite right!”) That is their second defect. The northward advance of the Cantonese is usually regarded not as an expansion of the Chinese revolution, but as a struggle of the Canton generals against Wu Pei-fu and Sun Chuan fang, as a struggle for supremacy of some generals against others. That is a profound mistake, comrades. The revolutionary armies in China are a most important factor in the struggle of the Chinese workers and peasants for their emancipation. Is it accidental that until May or June of this year the situation in China was regarded as the rule of reaction, which set in after the defeat of Feng Yu-hsiang’s armies, but that later on, in the summer of this year, the victorious Canton troops had only to advance northward and occupy Hupeh for the whole picture to change radically in favour of the revolution? No, it is not accidental. For the advance of the Cantonese means a blow at imperialism, a blow at its agents in China; it means freedom of assembly, freedom to strike, freedom of the press, and freedom to organise for all the revolutionary elements in China in general, and for the workers in particular. That is what constitutes the specific feature and supreme importance of the revolutionary army in China.

Formerly, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, revolutions usually began with an uprising of the people for the most part unarmed or poorly armed, who came into collision with the army of the old regime, which they tried to demoralise or at least to win in part to their own side. That was the typical form of the revolutionary outbreaks in the past. That is what happened here in Russia in 1905. In China things have taken a different course. In China, the troops of the old government are confronted not by an unarmed people, but by an armed people, in the shape of its revolutionary army. In China the armed revolution is fighting the armed counter-revolution. That is one of the specific features and one of the advantages of the Chinese revolution. And therein lies the special significance of the revolutionary army in China.

That is why it is an impermissible shortcoming of the theses submitted that they underestimate the revolutionary army.

But it follows from this that the Communists in China must devote special attention to work in the army.

In the first place, the Communists in China must in every way intensify political work in the army, and ensure that the army becomes a real and exemplary vehicle of the ideas of the Chinese revolution. That is particularly necessary because all kinds of generals who have nothing in common with the Kuomintang are now attaching themselves to the Cantonese, as a force which is routing the enemies of the Chinese people; and in attaching themselves to the Cantonese they are introducing demoralisation into the army. The only way to neutralise such “allies” or to make them genuine Kuomintangists is to intensify political work and to establish revolutionary control over them. Unless this is done, the army may find itself in a very difficult situation.

In the second place, the Chinese revolutionaries, including the Communists, must undertake a thorough study of the art of war. They must not regard it as something secondary, because nowadays it is a cardinal factor in the Chinese revolution. The Chinese revolutionaries, and hence the Communists also, must study the art of war, in order gradually to come to the fore and occupy various leading posts in the revolutionary army. That is the guarantee that the revolutionary army in China will advance along the right road, straight to its goal. Unless this is done, wavering and vacillation may become inevitable in the army.

IV

CHARACTER OF THE FUTURE
GOVERNMENT IN CHINA

My third remark concerns the fact that the theses say nothing, or do not say enough, about the character of the future revolutionary government in China. Mif, in his theses comes close to the subject, and that is to his credit. But having come close to it, he for some reason became frightened and did not venture to bring matters to a conclusion. Mif thinks that the future revolutionary government in China will be a government of the revolutionary petty bourgeoisie under the leadership of the proletariat. What does that mean? At the time of the February Revolution in 1917, the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries were also petty-bourgeois parties and to a certain extent revolutionary. Does this mean that the future revolutionary government in China will be a Socialist-Revolutionary-Menshevik government? No, it does not. Why? Because the Socialist-Revolutionary Menshevik government was in actual fact an imperialist government, while the future revolutionary government in China cannot but be an anti-imperialist government. The difference here is fundamental.

The MacDonald government was even a “labour” government, but it was an imperialist government all the same, because it based itself on the preservation of British imperialist rule, in India and Egypt, for example. As compared with the MacDonald government, the future revolutionary government in China will have the advantage of being an anti-imperialist government.

The point lies not only in the bourgeois-democratic character of the Canton government, which is the embryo of the future all-China revolutionary government; the point is above all that this government is, and cannot but be, an anti-imperialist government, that every advance it makes is a blow at world imperialism — and, consequently, a blow which benefits the world revolutionary movement.

Lenin was right when he said that, whereas formerly, before the advent of the era of world revolution, the national liberation movement was part of the general democratic movement, now, after the victory of the Soviet revolution in Russia and the advent of the era of world revolution, the national-liberation movement is part of the world proletarian revolution.

This specific feature Mif did not take into account.

I think that the future revolutionary government in China will in general resemble in character the government we used to talk about in our country in 1905, that is, something in the nature of a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, with the difference, however, that it will be first and foremost an anti-imperialist government.

It will be a government transitional to a non-capitalist, or, more exactly, a socialist development of China.

That is the direction that the revolution in China should take.

This course of development of the revolution is facilitated by three circumstances:

firstly, by the fact that the revolution in China, being a revolution of national liberation, will be spearheaded against imperialism and its agents in China;

secondly, by the fact that the national big bourgeoisie in China is weak, weaker than the national bourgeoisie was in Russia in the period of 1905, which facilitates the hegemony of the proletariat and the leadership of the Chinese peasantry by the proletarian party;

thirdly, by the fact that the revolution in China will develop in circumstances that will make it possible to draw upon the experience and assistance of the victorious revolution in the Soviet Union.

Whether this course will end in absolute and certain victory will depend upon many circumstances. But one thing at any rate is clear, and that is that the struggle for precisely this course of the Chinese revolution is the basic task of the Chinese Communists.

From this follows the task of the Chinese Communists as regards their attitude to the Kuomintang and to the future revolutionary government in China. It is said that the Chinese Communists should withdraw from the Kuomintang. That would be wrong, comrades. The withdrawal of the Chinese Communists from the Kuomintang at the present time would be a profound mistake. The whole course, character and prospects of the Chinese revolution undoubtedly testify in favour of the Chinese Communists remaining in the Kuomintang and intensifying their work in it.

But can the Chinese Communist Party participate in the future revolutionary government? It not only can, but must do so. The course, character and prospects of the revolution in China are eloquent testimony in favour of the Chinese Communist Party taking part in the future revolutionary government of China.

Therein lies one of the essential guarantees of the establishment in fact of the hegemony of the Chinese proletariat.

V

THE PEASANT QUESTION IN CHINA

My fourth remark concerns the question of the peasantry in China. Mif thinks that the slogan for forming Soviets — namely, peasant Soviets in the Chinese countryside — should be issued immediately. In my opinion, that would be a mistake. Mif is running too far ahead. One cannot build Soviets in the countryside and avoid the industrial centres of China. But the establishment of Soviets in the industrial centres of China is not at present on the order of the day. Moreover, it must be borne in mind that Soviets cannot be considered out of connection with the surrounding situation. Soviets — in this case peasant Soviets — could only be organised if China were at the peak period of a peasant movement which was smashing the old order of things and building a new power, on the calculation that the industrial centres of China had already burst the dam and had entered the phase of establishing the power of the Soviets. Can it be said that the Chinese peasantry and the Chinese revolution in general have already entered this phase? No, it cannot. Consequently, to speak of Soviets now would be running too far ahead. Consequently, the question that should be raised now is not that of Soviets, but of the formation of peasant committees. I have in mind peasant committees elected by the peasants, committees capable of formulating the basic demands of the peasantry and which would take all measures to secure the realisation of these demands in a revolutionary way. These peasant committees should serve as the axis around which the revolution in the countryside develops.

I know that there are Kuomintangists and even Chinese Communists who do not consider it possible to unleash revolution in the countryside, since they fear that if the peasantry were drawn into the revolution it would disrupt the united anti-imperialist front. That is a profound error, comrades. The more quickly and thoroughly the Chinese peasantry is drawn into the revolution, the stronger and more powerful the anti-imperialist front in China will be. The authors of the theses, especially Tan Ping-shan and Rafes, are quite right in maintaining that the immediate satisfaction of a number of the most urgent demands of the peasants is an essential condition for the victory of the Chinese revolution. I think it is high time to break down that inertness and that “neutrality” towards the peasantry which are to be observed in the actions of certain Kuomintang elements. I think that both the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang, and hence the Canton government, should pass from words to deeds without delay and raise the question of satisfying at once the most vital demands of the peasantry.

What the perspectives should be in this regard, and how far it is possible and necessary to go, depends on the course of the revolution. I think that in the long run matters should go as far as the nationalisation of the land. At all events, we cannot repudiate such a slogan as that of nationalisation of the land.

What are the ways and means that the Chinese revolutionaries must adopt to rouse the vast peasant masses of China to revolution?

I think that in the given conditions one can only speak of three ways.

The first way is by the formation of peasant committees and by the Chinese revolutionaries entering these committees in order to influence the peasantry. (A voice from the audience : “What about the peasant associations?”) I think that the peasant associations will group themselves around the peasant committees, or will be converted into peasant committees, vested with the necessary measure of authority for the realisation of the peasants’ demands. I have already spoken about this way. But this way is not enough. It would be ridiculous to think that there are sufficient revolutionaries in China for this task. China has roughly 400 million in habitants. Of them, about 350 million are Han people. And of them, more than nine-tenths are peasants. Anyone who thinks that some tens of thousands of Chinese revolutionaries can cover this ocean of peasants is making a mistake. Consequently, additional ways are needed.

The second way is by influencing the peasantry through the apparatus of the new people’s revolutionary government. There is no doubt that in the newly liberated provinces a new government will be set up of the type of the Canton government. There is no doubt that this authority and its apparatus will have to set about satisfying the most urgent demands of the peasantry if it really wants to advance the revolution.

Well then, the task of the Communists and of the Chinese revolutionaries in general is to penetrate the apparatus of the new government, to bring this apparatus closer to the peasant masses, and by means of it to help the peasant masses to secure the satisfaction of their urgent demands, either by expropriating the landlords’ land, or by reducing taxation and rents — according to circumstances.

The third way is by influencing the peasantry through the revolutionary army. I have already spoken of the great importance of the revolutionary army in the Chinese revolution. The revolutionary army of China is the force which first penetrates new provinces, which first passes through densely populated peasant areas, and by which above all the peasant forms his judgment of the new government, of its good or bad qualities. It depends primarily on the behaviour of the revolutionary army, on its attitude towards the peasantry and towards the landlords, on its readiness to aid the peasants, what the attitude of the peasantry will be towards the new government, the Kuomintang and the Chinese revolution generally. If it is borne in mind that quite a number of dubious elements have attached themselves to the revolutionary army of China, and that they may change the complexion of the army for the worse, it will be understood how great is the importance of the political complexion of the army and its, so to speak, peasant policy in the eyes of the peasantry. The Chinese Communists and the Chinese revolutionaries generally must therefore take every measure to neutralise the anti-peasant elements in the army, to preserve the army’s revolutionary spirit, and to ensure that the army assists the peasants and rouses them to revolution.

We are told that the revolutionary army is welcomed in China with open arms, but that later, when it installs itself, a certain disillusionment sets in. The same thing happened here in the Soviet Union during the Civil War. The explanation is that when the army liberates new provinces and instals itself in them, it has in some way or other to feed itself at the expense of the local population. We, Soviet revolutionaries, usually succeeded in counter-balancing these disadvantages by endeavouring through the army to assist the peasants against the landlord elements. The Chinese revolutionaries must also learn how to counter-balance these disadvantages by conducting a correct peasant policy through the army.

VI

THE PROLETARIAT AND THE HEGEMONY
OF THE PROLETARIAT IN CHINA

My fifth remark concerns the question of the Chinese proletariat. In my opinion, the theses do not sufficiently stress the role and significance of the working class in China. Rafes asks, on whom should the Chinese Communists orientate themselves — on the Lefts or the Kuomintang centre? That is a strange question. I think that the Chinese Communists should orientate themselves first and foremost on the proletariat, and should orientate the leaders of the Chinese liberation movement on the revolution. That is the only correct way to put the question. I know that among the Chinese Communists there are comrades who do not approve of workers going on strike for an improvement of their material conditions and legal status, and who try to dissuade the workers from striking. (A voice : “That happened in Canton and Shanghai.”) That is a great mistake, comrades. It is a very serious underestimation of the role and importance of the Chinese proletariat. This fact should be noted in the theses as something decidedly objectionable. It would be a great mistake if the Chinese Communists failed to take advantage of the present favourable situation to assist the workers to improve their material conditions and legal status, even through strikes. Otherwise, what purpose does the revolution in China serve? The proletariat cannot be a leading force if during strikes its sons are flogged and tortured by agents of imperialism. These medieval outrages must be stopped at all costs, in order to heighten the sense of power and dignity among the Chinese proletarians, and to make them capable of leading the revolutionary movement. Without this, the victory of the revolution in China is in conceivable. Therefore, a due place must be given in the theses to the economic and legal demands of the Chinese working class aimed at substantially improving its conditions. (Mif: “It is mentioned in the theses.”) Yes, it is mentioned in the theses, but, unfortunately, these demands are not given sufficient prominence.

VII

THE QUESTION OF THE YOUTH
IN CHINA

My sixth remark concerns the question of the youth in China. It is strange that this question has not been taken into account in the theses. Yet it is now of the utmost importance in China. Tan Ping-shan’s reports touch upon this question, but, unfortunately, do not give it sufficient prominence. The question of the youth is one of primary importance in China today. The student youth (the revolutionary students), the working-class youth, the peasant youth — all this constitutes a force that could advance the revolution with giant strides, if it was subordinated to the ideological and political influence of the Kuomintang.[*] It should be borne in mind that no one suffers from imperialist oppression so deeply and keenly, or is so acutely and painfully aware of the necessity to fight against it, as the Chinese youth. The Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese revolutionaries should take this circumstance fully into account and intensify their work among the youth to the utmost. The youth must be given its place in the theses on the Chinese question.

VIII

SOME CONCLUSIONS

I should like to mention certain conclusions — with regard to the struggle against imperialism in China, and with regard to the peasant question.

There is no doubt that the Chinese Communist Party cannot now confine itself to demanding the abolition of the unequal treaties. That is a demand which is upheld now by even such a counter-revolutionary as Chang Hsueh-liang. Obviously, the Chinese Communist Party must go farther than that.

It is necessary, further, to consider — as a perspective — the nationalisation of the railways. This is necessary, and should be worked for.

It is necessary, further, to have in mind the perspective of nationalising the most important mills and factories. In this connection, the question arises first of all of nationalising those enterprises the owners of which display particular hostility and particular aggressiveness towards the Chinese people. It is necessary also to give prominence to the peasant question, linking it with the prospects of the revolution in China. I think that what has to be worked for in the long run is the confiscation of the landlords’ land for the benefit of the peasants and the nationalisation of the land.

The rest is self-evident.

Those, comrades, are all the remarks that I desired to make.

Note: Such a policy was correct in the conditions prevailing at the time, since the Kuomintang then represented a bloc of the Communists and more or less Left-wing Kuomintangists, which conducted an anti-imperialist revolutionary policy. Later on this policy was abandoned as no longer in conformity with the interests of the Chinese revolution, since the Kuomintang had deserted the revolution and later became the centre of the struggle against it, while the Communists withdrew from the Kuomintang and broke off relations with it.

The CIA Reads French Theory: On the Intellectual Labor of Dismantling the Cultural Left

Gabriel Rockhill, Ph.D.v

It is often presumed that intellectuals have little or no political power. Perched in a privileged ivory tower, disconnected from the real world, embroiled in meaningless academic debates over specialized minutia, or floating in the abstruse clouds of high-minded theory, intellectuals are frequently portrayed as not only cut off from political reality but as incapable of having any meaningful impact on it. The Central Intelligence Agency thinks otherwise.

As a matter of fact, the agency responsible for coups d’état, targeted assassinations and the clandestine manipulation of foreign governments not only believes in the power of theory, but it dedicated significant resources to having a group of secret agents pore over what some consider to be the most recondite and intricate theory ever produced. For in an intriguing research paper written in 1985, and recently released with minor redactions through the Freedom of Information Act, the CIA reveals that its operatives have been studying the complex, international trend-setting French theory affiliated with the names of Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan and Roland Barthes.

The ‘Apparat’ in Paris: CIA Agent and Head of the CCF Michael Josselson (center) in a Working Lunch with John Clinton Hunt and Melvin Lasky (right)

The image of American spies gathering in Parisian cafés to assiduously study and compare notes on the high priests of the French intelligentsia might shock those who presume this group of intellectuals to be luminaries whose otherworldly sophistication could never be caught in such a vulgar dragnet, or who assume them to be, on the contrary, charlatan peddlers of incomprehensible rhetoric with little or no impact on the real world. However, it should come as no surprise to those familiar with the CIA’s longstanding and ongoing investment in a global cultural war, including support for its most avant-garde forms, which has been well documented by researchers like Frances Stonor Saunders, Giles Scott-Smith, Hugh Wilford (and I have made my own contribution in Radical History & the Politics of Art).

Thomas W. Braden, the former supervisor of cultural activities at the CIA, explained the power of the Agency’s cultural assault in a frank insider’s account published in 1967: “I remember the enormous joy I got when the Boston Symphony Orchestra [which was supported by the CIA] won more acclaim for the U.S. in Paris than John Foster Dulles or Dwight D. Eisenhower could have bought with a hundred speeches.” This was by no means a small or liminal operation. In fact, as Wilford has aptly argued, the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), which was headquartered in Paris and later discovered to be a CIA front organization during the cultural Cold War, was among the most important patrons in world history, supporting an incredible range of artistic and intellectual activities. It had offices in 35 countries, published dozens of prestige magazines, was involved in the book industry, organized high-profile international conferences and art exhibits, coordinated performances and concerts, and contributed ample funding to various cultural awards and fellowships, as well as to front organizations like the Farfield Foundation.

The intelligence agency understands culture and theory to be crucial weapons in the overall arsenal it deploys to perpetuate US interests around the world. The recently released research paper from 1985, entitled “France: Defection of the Leftist Intellectuals, examines—undoubtedly in order to manipulate—the French intelligentsia and its fundamental role in shaping the trends that generate political policy. Suggesting that there has been a relative ideological balance between the left and the right in the history of the French intellectual world, the report highlights the monopoly of the left in the immediate postwar era—to which, we know, the Agency was rabidly opposed—due to the Communists’ key role in resisting fascism and ultimately winning the war against it. Although the right had been massively discredited because of its direct contribution to the Nazi death camps, as well as its overall xenophobic, anti-egalitarian and fascist agenda (according to the CIA’s own description), the unnamed secret agents who drafted the study outline with palpable delight the return of the right since approximately the early 1970s.

More specifically, the undercover cultural warriors applaud what they see as a double movement that has contributed to the intelligentsia shifting its critical focus away from the US and toward the USSR. On the left, there was a gradual intellectual disaffection with Stalinism and Marxism, a progressive withdrawal of radical intellectuals from public debate, and a theoretical move away from socialism and the socialist party. Further to the right, the ideological opportunists referred to as the New Philosophers and the New Right intellectuals launched a high-profile media smear campaign against Marxism.

While other tentacles of the worldwide spy organization were involved in overthrowing democratically elected leaders, providing intelligence and funding to fascist dictators, and supporting right-wing death squads, the Parisian central intelligentsia squadron was collecting data on how the theoretical world’s drift to the right directly benefitted US foreign policy. The left-leaning intellectuals of the immediate postwar era had been openly critical of US imperialism. Jean-Paul Sartre’s media clout as an outspoken Marxist critic, and his notable role—as the founder of Libération—in blowing the cover of the CIA station officer in Paris and dozens of undercover operatives, was closely monitored by the Agency and considered a very serious problem.

In contrast, the anti-Soviet and anti-Marxist atmosphere of the emerging neoliberal era diverted public scrutiny and provided excellent cover for the CIA’s dirty wars by making it “very difficult for anyone to mobilize significant opposition among intellectual elites to US policies in Central America, for example.” Greg Grandin, one of the leading historians of Latin America, perfectly summarized this situation in The Last Colonial Massacre: “Aside from making visibly disastrous and deadly interventions in Guatemala in 1954, the Dominican Republic in 1965, Chile in 1973, and El Salvador and Nicaragua during the 1980s, the United States has lent quiet and steady financial, material, and moral support for murderous counterinsurgent terror states. […] But the enormity of Stalin’s crimes ensures that such sordid histories, no matter how compelling, thorough, or damning, do not disturb the foundation of a worldview committed to the exemplary role of the United States in defending what we now know as democracy.”

It is in this context that the masked mandarins commend and support the relentless critique that a new generation of anti-Marxist thinkers like Bernard-Henri Levy, André Glucksmann and Jean-François Revel unleashed on “the last clique of Communist savants” (composed, according to the anonymous agents, of Sartre, Barthes, Lacan and Louis Althusser). Given the leftwing leanings of these anti-Marxists in their youth, they provide the perfect model for constructing deceptive narratives that amalgamate purported personal political growth with the progressive march of time, as if both individual life and history were simply a matter of “growing up” and recognizing that profound egalitarian social transformation is a thing of the—personal and historical—past. This patronizing, omniscient defeatism not only serves to discredit new movements, particularly those driven by the youth, but it also mischaracterizes the relative successes of counter-revolutionary repression as the natural progress of history. 

Anti-Marxist French Philosopher Raymond Aron (left) and His Wife Suzanne on Vacation with Undercover CIA Operative Michael Josselson and Denis de Rougemont (right)

Even theoreticians who were not as opposed to Marxism as these intellectual reactionaries have made a significant contribution to an environment of disillusionment with transformative egalitarianism, detachment from social mobilization and “critical inquiry” devoid of radical politics. This is extremely important for understanding the CIA’s overall strategy in its broad and profound attempts to dismantle the cultural left in Europe and elsewhere. In recognizing it was unlikely that it could abolish it entirely, the world’s most powerful spy organization has sought to move leftist culture away from resolute anti-capitalist and transformative politics toward center-left reformist positions that are less overtly critical of US foreign and domestic policies. In fact, as Saunders has demonstrated in detail, the Agency went behind the back of the McCarthy-driven Congress in the postwar era in order to directly support and promote leftist projects that steered cultural producers and consumers away from the resolutely egalitarian left. In severing and discrediting the latter, it also aspired to fragment the left in general, leaving what remained of the center left with only minimal power and public support (as well as being potentially discredited due to its complicity with right-wing power politics, an issue that continues to plague contemporary institutionalized parties on the left).

It is in this light that we must understand the intelligence agency’s fondness for conversion narratives and its deep appreciation for “reformed Marxists,” a leitmotif that traverses the research paper on French theory. “Even more effective in undermining Marxism,” the moles write, “were those intellectuals who set out as true believers to apply Marxist theory in the social sciences but ended by rethinking and rejecting the entire tradition.” They cite in particular the profound contribution made by the Annales School of historiography and structuralism—particularly Claude Lévi-Strauss and Foucault—to the “critical demolition of Marxist influence in the social sciences.” Foucault, who is referred to as “France’s most profound and influential thinker,” is specifically applauded for his praise of the New Right intellectuals for reminding philosophers that “‘bloody’ consequences” have “flowed from the rationalist social theory of the 18th-century Enlightenment and the Revolutionary era.” Although it would be a mistake to collapse anyone’s politics or political effect into a single position or result, Foucault’s anti-revolutionary leftism and his perpetuation of the blackmail of the Gulag—i.e. the claim that expansive radical movements aiming at profound social and cultural transformation only resuscitate the most dangerous of traditions—are perfectly in line with the espionage agency’s overall strategies of psychological warfare.

The CIA’s reading of French theory should give us pause, then, to reconsider the radical chic veneer that has accompanied much of its Anglophone reception. According to a stagist conception of progressive history (which is usually blind to its implicit teleology), the work of figures like Foucault, Derrida and other cutting-edge French theorists is often intuitively affiliated with a form of profound and sophisticated critique that presumably far surpasses anything found in the socialist, Marxist or anarchist traditions. It is certainly true and merits emphasis that the Anglophone reception of French theory, as John McCumber has aptly pointed out, had important political implications as a pole of resistance to the false political neutrality, the safe technicalities of logic and language, or the direct ideological conformism operative in the McCarthy-supported traditions of Anglo-American philosophy. However, the theoretical practices of figures who turned their back on what Cornelius Castoriadis called the tradition of radical critique—meaning anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist resistance—surely contributed to the ideological drift away from transformative politics. According to the spy agency itself, post-Marxist French theory directly contributed to the CIA’s cultural program of coaxing the left toward the right, while discrediting anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism, thereby creating an intellectual environment in which their imperial projects could be pursued unhindered by serious critical scrutiny from the intelligentsia.

As we know from the research on the CIA’s program of psychological warfare, the organization has not only tracked and sought to coerce individuals, but it has always been keen on understanding and transforming institutions of cultural production and distribution. Indeed, its study on French theory points to the structural role universities, publishing houses and the media play in the formation and consolidation of a collective political ethos. In descriptions that, like the rest of the document, should invite us to think critically about the current academic situation in the Anglophone world and beyond, the authors of the report foreground the ways in which the precarization of academic labor contributes to the demolition of radical leftism. If strong leftists cannot secure the material means necessary to carry out our work, or if we are more or less subtly forced to conform in order to find employment, publish our writings or have an audience, then the structural conditions for a resolute leftist community are weakened. The vocationalization of higher education is another tool used for this end since it aims at transforming people into techno-scientific cogs in the capitalist apparatus rather than autonomous citizens with reliable tools for social critique. The theory mandarins of the CIA therefore praise the efforts on the part of the French government to “push students into business and technical courses.” They also point to the contributions made by major publishing houses like Grasset, the mass media and the vogue of American culture in pushing forward their post-socialist and anti-egalitarian platform.

What lessons might we draw from this report, particularly in the current political environment with its ongoing assault on the critical intelligentsia? First of all, it should be a cogent reminder that if some presume that intellectuals are powerless, and that our political orientations do not matter, the organization that has been one of the most potent power brokers in contemporary world politics does not agree. The Central Intelligence Agency, as its name ironically suggests, believes in the power of intelligence and theory, and we should take this very seriously. In falsely presuming that intellectual work has little or no traction in the “real world,” we not only misrepresent the practical implications of theoretical labor, but we also run the risk of dangerously turning a blind eye to the political projects for which we can easily become the unwitting cultural ambassadors. Although it is certainly the case that the French nation-state and cultural apparatus provide a much more significant public platform for intellectuals than is to be found in many other countries, the CIA’s preoccupation with mapping and manipulating theoretical and cultural production elsewhere should serve as a wake-up call to us all.

Second, the power brokers of the present have a vested interest in cultivating an intelligentsia whose critical acumen has been dulled or destroyed by fostering institutions founded on business and techno-science interests, equating left-wing politics with anti-scientificity, correlating science with a purported—but false—political neutrality, promoting media that saturate the airwaves with conformist prattle, sequestering strong leftists outside of major academic institutions and the media spotlight, and discrediting any call for radical egalitarian and ecological transformation. Ideally, they seek to nurture an intellectual culture that, if on the left, is neutralized, immobilized, listless and content with defeatist hand wringing, or with the passive criticism of the radically mobilized left. This is one of the reasons why we might want to consider intellectual opposition to radical leftism, which preponderates in the U.S. academy, as a dangerous political position: isn’t it directly complicit with the CIA’s imperialist agenda around the world?

Third, to counter this institutional assault on a culture of resolute leftism, it is imperative to resist the precarization and vocationalization of education. It is equally important to create public spheres of truly critical debate, providing a broader platform for those who recognize that another world is not only possible, but is necessary. We also need to band together in order to contribute to or further develop alternative media, different models of education, counter-institutions and radical collectives. It is vital to foster precisely what the covert cultural combatants want to destroy: a culture of radical leftism with a broad institutional framework of support, extensive public backing, prevalent media clout and expansive power of mobilization.

Finally, intellectuals of the world should unite in recognizing our power and seizing upon it in order to do everything that we can to develop systemic and radical critique that is as egalitarian and ecological as it is anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist. The positions that one defends in the classroom or publicly are important for setting the terms of debate and charting the field of political possibility. In direct opposition to the spy agency’s cultural strategy of fragment and polarize, by which it has sought to sever and isolate the anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist left, while opposing it to reformist positions, we should federate and mobilize by recognizing the importance of working together—across the entire left, as Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor has recently reminded usfor the cultivation of a truly critical intelligentsia. Rather than proclaiming or bemoaning the powerlessness of intellectuals, we should harness the ability to speak truth to power by working together and mobilizing our capacity to collectively create the institutions necessary for a world of cultural leftism. For it is only in such a world, and in the echo chambers of critical intelligence that it produces, that the truths spoken might actually be heard, and thereby change the very structures of power. 

Ludo Martens: Trotsky’s role on the eve of the Second World War

by Ludo Martens
 
During the thirties, Trotsky literally became the world’s expert on anti-Communism. Even today, right-wing ideologues peruse Trotsky’s works in search of weapons against the Soviet Union under Stalin.

In 1982, when Reagan was again preaching the anti-Communist crusade, Henri Bernard, Professor Emeritus at the Royal Military School of Belgium, published a book to spread the following urgent message:

`The Communists of 1982 are the Nazis of 1939. We are weaker in front of Moscow than we were in August 1939 in front of Hitler.’

Bernard, op. cit. , p. 9.

All of the standard clichés of Le Pen , the fascist French Front National leader, are there:

`Terrorism is not the act of a few crazies. The basis of everything is the Soviet Union and the clandestine network of international terrorism.’

Ibid. , p. 121.

`Christian leftism is a Western wound.
`The synchronicity of `pacifist’ demonstrations shows how they were inspired by Moscow.’

Ibid. , p. 123.

`The British commandos who went to die in the Falklands showed that there still exist moral values in the West.’

Ibid. , p. 11.

But the tactics used by such an avowed anti-Communist as Bernard are very interesting. Here is how a man who,despite despising a `leftist Christian’, will ally himself with Trotsky.

`The private Lenin was, like Trotsky, a human being …. His personal life was full of nuance ….`Trotsky should normally have succeeded Lenin … he was the main architect of the October Revolution, the victor of the Civil War, the creator of the Red Army ….

`Lenin had much respect for Trotsky. He thought of him as successor. He thought Stalin was too brutal ….

`Within the Soviet Union, Trotsky rose up against the imposing bureaucracy that was paralysing the Communist machine ….

`Artist, educated, non-conformist and often prophet, he could not get along with the main dogmatists in the Party ….

`Stalin was nationalist, a sentiment that did not exist either in Lenin or Trotsky …. With Trotsky, the foreign Communist Parties could consider themselves as a force whose sole purpose was to impose a social order. With Stalin, they worked for the Kremlin and to further its imperialist politics.’

Ibid. , pp. 48–50.

We present here a few of the main theses that Trotsky put forward during the years 1937–1940, and that illustrate the nature of his absolute anti-Communist struggle. They allow one to understand why people in the Western security services, such as Henri Bernard, use Trotsky to fight Communists. They also shed some light on the class struggle between Bolsheviks and opportunists and on some aspects of the Purge of 1937–1938.

The enemy is the new aristocracy, the new Bolshevik bourgeoisie

For Trotsky, the main enemy was at the head of the Soviet State: it was the `new Bolshevik aristocracy’, the most anti-Socialist and anti-democratic layer of the society, a social layer that lived like `the well-to-do bourgeois of the United States’! Here is how he phrased it.

`The privileged bureaucracy … now represents the most antisocialist and the most antidemocratic sector of Soviet society.’

Trotsky, Thermidor et l’antisémitisme (22 February 1937). La lutte, pp. 143–144.

`We accuse the ruling clique of having transformed itself into a new aristocracy, oppressing and robbing the masses …. The higher layer of the bureaucracy lives approximately the same kind of life as the well-to-do bourgeois of the United States and other capitalist countries.’

Trotsky, The World Situation and Perspectives (14 February 1940). Writings, vol. 12, pp. 148–149.

This language makes Trotsky indistinguishable from the Menshevik leaders when they were leading the counter-revolutionary armed struggle, alongside the White and interventionist armies. Also indistinguishable from the language of the classical Right of the imperialist countries.

Compare Trotsky with the main anti-Communist ideologue in the International Confederation of Christian Unions (CISC), P. J. S. Serrarens, writing in 1948:

`There are thanks to Stalin, once again `classes’ and rich people …. Just like in a capitalist society, the élite is rewarded with money and power. There is what `Force Ouvrière’ (France) calls a `Soviet aristocracy’. This weekly compares it to the aristocracy created by Napoleon.’

P. J. S. Serrarens, La Russie et l’Occident (Utrecht: Confédération Internationale des Syndicats Chrétiens, n.d.), pp. 33, 37.

After World War II, the French union Force Ouvrière to which Serrarens was referring was directly created and financed by the CIA. The `Lambertist’ Trotskyist group worked, and still works, inside it. At that time, the CISC, be it in Italy or Belgium, worked directly for the CIA for the defence of the capitalist system in Europe. To mobilize the workers against Communism, it used a revolting `anti-capitalist’ demagoguery that it borrowed from the social-democrats and the Trotskyists: in the Soviet Union, there was a `new class of rich people’, a `Soviet aristocracy’.

Confronting this `new aristocracy, oppressing and robbing the masses’,

Trotsky, The World Situation, p. 148.

there were, in Trotsky’s eyes, `one hundred and sixty millions who are profoundly discontented’.

Ibid. , p. 149.

These `people’ were protecting the collectivization of the means of production and the planned economy against the `ignorant and despotic Stalinist thieves’. In other words, apart from the `Stalinists’, the rest of the society was clean and led just struggles! Listen to Trotsky:

`Twelve to fifteen millions of the privileged — there are the “people” who organize the parades, demonstrations, and ovations …. But apart from this “pays légal” as was once said in France, there exist one hundred and sixty millions who are profoundly discontented ….

`Antagonism between the bureaucracy and the people is measured by the increasing severity of the totalitarian rule ….
`The bureaucracy can be crushed only by a new political revolution.’

Ibid. , p. 149.

`(T)he economy is planned on the basis of nationalization and collectivization of the means of production. This state economy has its own laws that are less and less tolerant of the despotism, ignorance and banditry of the Stalinist bureaucracy.’

Trotsky, La capitulation de Staline (11 March 1939). La lutte, p. 216.

Since the re-establishment of capitalism was impossible in Trotsky’s eyes, any opposition, be it social-democratic, revisionist, bourgeois or counter-revolutionary, became legitimate. It was the voice of `one hundred and sixty millions who were profoundly discontented’ and aimed to `protect’ the collectivization of the means of production against the `new aristocracy’. Trotsky became the spokesperson for all the retrograde forces, anti-socialist and fascist.

Bolshevism and fascism

Trotsky was one of the first to put forward the line that Bolshevism and fascism were twins. This thesis was quite popular, during the thirties, in the reactionary Catholic parties. The Communist Party was their sworn enemy, the fascist party their most important bourgeois opponent. Once again, here is Trotsky:

`Fascism is winning victory after victory and its best ally, the one that is clearing its path throughout the world, is Stalinism.’

Trotsky, Caïn Dugachvili va jusqu’au bout (April 1938). L’appareil, p. 238.

`In fact, nothing distinguishes Stalin’s political methods from Hitler’s. But the difference in results on the international scale is remarkable.’

Trotsky, La capitulation de Staline, p. 216.

`An important part, which becomes more and more important, of the Soviet apparatus is formed of fascists who have yet to recognize themselves as such. To equate the Soviet régime with fascism is a gross historic error …. But the symmetry of the political superstructures and the similarity of totalitarian methods and of psychological profiles are striking ….
`(T)he agony of Stalinism is the most horrible and most odious spectacle on Earth.’

Trotsky, Nouvelles défections (17 March 1938). La lutte, pp. 161–162.

Trotsky here presented one of the first versions of the essential theme of CIA and fascist propaganda during the fifties, that of `red fascism’. By using the word `fascism’, Trotsky tried to redirect the hatred that the masses felt towards the terrorist dictatorship of big capital, against socialism. After 1944–1945, all the German, Hungarian, Croatian and Ukrainian fascist leaders that fled to the West put on their `democratic’ mask; they praised U.S. `democracy’, the new hegemonic force and the main source of support for retrograde and fascist forces in the world. These `old’ fascists, faithful to their criminal past, all developed the same theme: `Bolshevism is fascism, but even worse’.

Note further that at the time that European fascism had already started its war (wars in Ethiopia and Spain, annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia), Trotsky was affirming that the `most horrible and most odious spectable’ on Earth was the `agony of socialism’!

Defeatism and capitulation in front of Nazi Germany

Trotsky became the main propagandist for defeatism and capitulationism in the Soviet Union. His demagogic `world revolution’ served to better stifle the Soviet revolution. Trotsky spread the idea that in case of fascist aggression against the Soviet Union, Stalin and the Bolsheviks would `betray’ and that under their leadership, the defeat of the Soviet Union was inevitable. Here are his ideas on this subject:

`The military … status of Soviet Russia, is contradictory. On one side we have a population of 170,000,000 awakened by the greatest revolution in history … with a more or less developed war industry. On the other side we have a political regime paralyzing all of the forces of the new society …. One thing I am sure: the political regime will not survive the war. The social regime, which is the nationalized property of production, is incomparably more powerful than the political regime, which has a despotic character …. The representatives of the political regime, or the bureaucracy, are afraid of the prospect of a war, because they know better than we that they will not survive the war as a regime.’

Trotsky, On the Eve of World War II (23 July 1939). Writings, vol. 12, p. 18.

Once again, there were, on one side, `the 170 million’, the `good’ citizens who were awoken by the Revolution. One might wonder by whom, if it was not by the Bolshevik Party and Stalin: the great peasant masses were certainly not `awoken’ during the years 1921–1928. These `170 million’ had a `developed war industry’. As if it was not Stalin’s collectivization and industrialization policies, implemented thanks to his strong will, that allowed the creation of an arms industry in record time! Thanks to his correct line, to his will, to his capacity to organize, the Bolshevik régime awoke the popular forces that had been kept in ignorance, superstition and primitive individual work. According to the provocateur Trotsky’s rantings, the Bolshevik régime paralyzed that society’s forces! And Trotsky made all sorts of absurd predictions: it was certain that the Bolshevik régime would not survive the war! Hence, two propaganda themes dear to the Nazis can be found in Trotsky’s writings: anti-Bolshevism and defeatism.

`Berlin knows to what extent the Kremlin clique has demoralized the country’s army and population through its struggle for self-preservation ….
`Stalin continues to sap the moral force and the general level of resistance of the country. Careerists with no honor, nor conscience, upon whom Stalin is forced to rely, will betray the country in difficult times.’

Trotsky, Staline et Hitler (12 March 1938). L’appareil, p. 234.

In his hatred of Communism, Trotsky incited the Nazis to wage war against the Soviet Union. He, the `eminent expert’ on the affairs of the Soviet Union, told the Nazis that they had every chance of winning the war against Stalin: the army and the population were demoralized (false!), Stalin was destroying the resistance (false!) and the Stalinists would capitulate at the beginning of the war (false!).

In the Soviet Union, this Trotskyist propaganda had two effects. It encouraged defeatism and capitulationism, through the idea that fascism was assured victory given that the USSR had such a rotten and incompetent leadership. It also encouraged `insurrections’ and assassination attempts to eliminate Bolshevik leaders `who would betray in difficult times’. A leadership that was categorically destined to fall during the war might well fall at the beginning of the war. Anti-Soviet and opportunistic groups could therefore make their attempts.

In both cases, Trotsky’s provocations directly helped the Nazis.