Category: struggle for socialism
Victory’s Test of Time
worker | May 9, 2021 | 8:28 pm | struggle against fascism, Struggle for Peace, struggle for socialism, USSR | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/202105081082833275-victorys-test-of-time/

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The Russian people have every right to proudly proclaim victory over Nazi Germany and fascism in Europe. Every year, celebrations of Victory Day remain as vibrant as ever. And for good reason.

This weekend marks the 76th anniversary of the Nazi defeat on May 9, 1945. Victory parades are held all across Russia with the most splendid display of honor in Moscow’s Red Square.

What is rather telling is how commemorations in the United States and Britain have become relatively dimmed over time. Every year there seems to be less importance given to the anniversary. Why is that? In Western news media, there are even reminder articles about the history of Victory Day and why events are held to mark the occasion.

The contrast with the vibrant and dedicated celebrations in Russia is down to one main fact: it was the Russian people and the Soviet Red Army that were the main victors over the Nazi regime. It is crucial to reiterate that and to never lose sight of the historical truth because Western politicians and media would have us believe otherwise.

The Soviet Union’s allies during World War II, the US and Britain, played a role in defeating Nazi Germany, but that role was secondary in the achievement. Put in another way: essentially, the defeat of the Third Reich would not have happened without the Red Army hammering the eastern front all the way to Hitler’s Berlin bunker. Whereas the Western allies were more auxiliary in the victory.

It was the Hammer and Sickle that flew over the smoldering Reich Chancellery not the Stars and Stripes nor the Union Jack.

The Banner of Victory on the Reichstag building in Berlin, May 1, 1945.
© SPUTNIK / VLADIMIR GREBNEV
The Banner of Victory on the Reichstag building in Berlin, May 1, 1945.

In short, it was the Soviet people who liberated Europe from Nazi tyranny and fascism. It was the Soviet people who largely brought an end to the infernal death camps.

  • Soviet tank crew during Victory Day Parade on Red Square.
  • Soviet and Polish Armia Krajowa soldiers in Vilnius, July 1944.
  • Soviet soldiers liberating Auschwitz
  • US soldiers congratulating Soviet officers with the victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.
  • Czestochowa (Poland) residents meet Soviet soldiers. January 1945. The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945
1 / 7
© SPUTNIK / RIA NOVOSTI
Soviet tank crew during Victory Day Parade on Red Square.

 

In spite of that glorious fact, the American and British political establishments have the arrogant audacity to claim that they were the liberating heroes. Based on this distortion of history, these Western powers claim a false moral authority. 

We saw this arrogance displayed this week in London at the so-called G7 summit. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his British counterpart Dominic Raab declared that their countries had established the rules-based international order that followed WWII. As always, the Americans and British imply that they are the moral superiors, which is derived from their false belief or delusion about their role in defeating Nazi Germany.

Victory Parade on Red Square on June 24, 1945 marking the defeat of Nazi Germany during WWII (1939-1945)
© SPUTNIK / EVGENY HALDEI
Victory Parade on Red Square on June 24, 1945 marking the defeat of Nazi Germany during WWII (1939-1945)

What is even more reprehensible, the US and Britain use this historical fraud to disparage and demonize Russia. They accuse Russia of “aggression” and other malign conduct when in fact no other two countries have waged as many wars and killed as many people in the 76 years following WWII.

Indeed, it can be argued that the American and British-led NATO military alliance is posing an existential threat to Russia by encircling its borders with increasing forces. Ironically, the last time such a threat was manifest was when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.

There are other reasons why Russia’s commemorations of Victory Day are far more important to its people than in the West. The war destroyed the lives of many more Russians – nearly 27 million – and therefore the memory of families and the sacrifices of their loved ones is that much stronger. Each year, there are fewer and fewer war veterans alive to commemorate the anniversary, but in Russia, millions of families carry on the memory with heartfelt devotion. The incomparable suffering of the Russian people is testimony to the fact that they bore the burden of defeating Nazi Germany and liberating Europe from fascism.

The test of time shows clearly who were the primary victors in the worst war that the world has ever seen.

The leaders of nations that claim otherwise are imposters and frauds. Their dimming victory parades over time evince their hijacking of history and the hollowness of their presumed role of “liberators” and champions of “international order” and “virtuous values”. Most damningly, these same people are capable of starting another world war from their arrogant delusions of superiority over Russia.

Which raises disturbing questions about the history of postwar fascism.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

What was the Cuban Revolution?
worker | April 5, 2021 | 8:28 pm | Cuba, socialism, struggle for socialism | Comments closed

“Life Was Better Under Communism” Says the Majority of Russians, Romanians and Eastern Germans
worker | November 3, 2020 | 8:04 pm | German Democratic Republic (GDR), struggle for socialism | Comments closed

“Life was better under Communism” says the majority of Russians, Romanians and Eastern Germans

The American Way to Bill of Rights Socialism
worker | October 30, 2020 | 8:12 pm | Gus Hall, socialism, struggle for socialism | Comments closed

The American way to Bill of Rights socialism

Eugene Debs: A New Film Does Him Proud
worker | May 1, 2018 | 8:42 pm | Eugene V. Debs, socialism, struggle for socialism | Comments closed

Eugene Debs: A New Film Does Him Proud
https://talkingunion.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/eugene-debs-a-new-film-does-him-proud/

by Michael Hirsch

A charismatic and militant labor leader, five-time Socialist Party presidential candidate, class-war prisoner jailed by the ostensibly liberal Woodrow Wilson administration for opposing U.S entry into World War 1 and a fiery, moral force in a corrupted era — Eugene Victor Debs was among the greatest orators this nation ever produced, yet no recording of his voice survives. And what a speaker he was! John Swinton, the late 19th century New York labor writer who as a young man heard Lincoln speak, likened Debs to Lincoln not just in intellect but in character. And unlike Lincoln, Debs could speak cogently to crowds for hours without notes.

Even foreign-language speakers were won over, with many testifying that Debs’ mannerisms alone were magnetic, his fist smacking his palm as he offered such injunctions as “Progress is born out of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation.”

To know Debs and his impact on American working-class politics as it emerged to confront the mammon of industrial and finance capital, we are ably served by his voluminous writings and by a series of fine, highly readable biographies by such writers as Ray Ginger, Nick Salvatore and Ernest Freeberg, the latter author focusing on Debs’ later years as “democracy’s prisoner.” Add to those a plethora of histories of the old Socialist Party. Ira Kipnis’s “The American Socialist Movement: 1897-1912”  is likely the best, though it ends prematurely with a massive vote for Debs in the presidential race and party membership peaking at 118,000 — all before the government’s full-bore assault on the left and Debs’ jailing.

Fortunately two strong movies are also available that help underscore  Debs’ impact, including a 1979 documentary by Bernie Sanders and a new feature: American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs, by filmmaker Yale Strom, currently artist-in-residence and professor in the Jewish Studies Program at San Diego State University, and narrated by actor Amy Madigan. Debs’ legacy is especially well served by the new production, which takes advantage not only of scholarly accounts of Debs’ life and American socialist movement he rose out of but judiciously utilized the extensive Debs archives at Michigan State University-Lansing, the Debs Foundation collection in Terra Haute, Indiana and others.

So Who was Debs?

Born in 1855 and named by his immigrant parents after the French novelists Eugene Sue and Victor Hugo, Debs was slow to embrace radical politics in his hometown of Terra Haute, where the capitalists were still of the small, local variety and social mobility was not impossible for working people. The metastasizing of monopoly capital in the area through the intrusion and consolidation of finance and industry would come soon enough. The future socialist even married a rich man’s daughter and was a Democratic state office holder, if briefly.

The film makes clear that Debs, a strong railroad worker-unionist, didn’t start out as a socialist; that transposition came after the Democratic administration of Grover Cleveland broke the American Railway Union strike under the mendacious claim that strikers were sabotaging mail delivery. Debs, it’s president, went into prison a militant trade unionist and, courtesy of the federal evisceration of his union and a prison reading of Marx’s Capital, came out six months later a committed revolutionary, though of a discernible American type. He would, for example, define socialism as “Christianity in action.” For Debs’ religiously inclined listeners, greed and the pursuit of personal wealth were presented as sin, the riches of capitalists balefully gained.

That appeal to traditional religion as a bulwark of cooperation — the essence of socialism — sparked interest in Debs’ “Red Special” whistle-stop electoral campaign in areas such as Oklahoma, where, the film argues, small-farmer militancy combined with ingrained Evangelical Christianity. The strategy was less successful in the South, where we can intuit that racial division was a prime factor mitigating unified class action.

But whether addressing farmers, workers or urban intellectuals at such venues as New York’s Cooper Union, Debs was in his element.

It was the Socialist Party’s opposition to World War I that led to its undoing and to a five-year prison sentence for Debs. His crime: violating a Sedition Act provision against urging young men to dodge the draft.

On July 16, 1918, a year after the act’s passage, Debs was in Canton, Ohio to address the Ohio Socialist Party’s state convention and visit comrades jailed for speaking out against the war. He knew he was at risk of arrest himself. “I must be exceedingly careful,” he told the convention delegates, “prudent as to what I say. I may not be able to say all I think, but I am not going to say anything that I do not think. I would rather a thousand times be a free soul in prison than to be a sycophant and coward in the streets. They may put those boys in jail — and some of the rest of us in jail — but they cannot put the Socialist movement in jail.”

True to form, government stenographers in the crowd noted his comments selectively. Prison followed, based on the alleged danger that his remarks, those of a known “agitator,” posed to troop recruitment — this just months before the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

A red scare followed the war. Foreign radicals were rounded up and deported. Native-born leftists of any stripe were imprisoned.

Running for president on the Socialist ticket in 1920 while incarcerated, Debs garnered just under 1 million votes. Even as late as 1921, on the eve of his leaving office, Wilson still refused to pardon Debs. It was the GOP’s Harding who granted Debs and 23 others a Christmas commutation.

The Irony of a Humble Man Lionized

It seems odd that a movement valorizing collective action and the social context of everyday life over invidious egotism and careerist grasping would also need to anoint leaders and elevate heroes. As Debs himself put it 1906 to an audience of workers in Detroit: “I would not be a Moses to lead you into the Promised Land, because if I could lead you into it, someone else could lead you out of it. You must use your heads as well as your hands, and get yourself out of your present condition.”

Even allowing for the early glint of its religious trappings, his was an American variant of Marx’s insistence on working-class self-activity, that the emancipation of working people was not the provenance of elites no matter how well-intentioned but a task largely of the workers alone. Debs’ often quoted statement to his trial judge at his conviction for violating the Sedition Act makes much the same point.

“Years ago, I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class I am in it; while there is a criminal class I am of it; while there is a soul in prison I am not free.”

Debs’ heroes were not great men and women but ordinary people who showed uncommon bravery and solidarity with one another.

A story Debs told, though not included in the film, concerns a black-balled former railroad worker in desperate straits who proudly tells Debs that he never scabbed, knowing the principled stance meant exorcism from a decent-paying job. “If I’d have been like some of them, I’d had a passenger train years ago and been saved lots of grief,” he tells Debs. “But I’d rather be a broken-down old umbrella fixer without a friend than to be a scab and worth a million…. And when I cross the big divide, I can walk up to the bar of judgment and look God in the face without a flicker.”

Debs’ cited the man as the epitome of working-class solidarity.

“There was something peculiarly grand about the scarred old veteran of the industrial battlefield,” Debs wrote in 1913. “His shabbiness was all on the outside, and he seemed transfigured to me and clad in garments of glory. He loomed before me like a forest monarch the tempests had riven and denuded of its foliage but could not lay low. He had kept the faith and had never scabbed.”

Neither did Debs. See the film.

American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victory Debs opened at New York City’s Cinema Village (Manhattan) on April 27 for one week, and includes a Q and A with the film creator for several performances. Showings are also scheduled for Hudson, NY (April 26-May 13); Los Angeles and Pasadena, (May 4-10); San Diego (May 11-16), Washington, D.C., (May 22), and the Cleveland Museum of Art (June 12-15.)  

This post first appeared in the reader-supported Indypendent and is reposted her with the permission of the author.

____

Photo: Eugene Victor Debs speaking to a crowd in Canton, Ohio 1914. Courtesy of First Run Features.

Scandalize my Name…

Scandalize my Name…

– from Greg Godels is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/

For the owners, publishers, and editors of the The New York Review of Books anti-Communism is still alive. The periodical occupies a unique, indispensable role in fostering and sustaining Cold War myths and legends.

The New York Review of Books has embraced rabid anti-Communism since its opportunistic birth in the midst of a newspaper strike. Founded by a cabal of virulent anti-Communists with identifiable links to the CIA through The Paris Review and the American Committee for Cultural Freedom, NYRB maintains the posture of the popular intellectual journal for academics, high-brow book clubbers, and coffee shop leftists for over half a century. Seldom would an issue go by without an earnest petition signed by intellectual celebrities pointing to human rights concerns in some far-off land that was coincidentally (perhaps?) also in the crosshairs of the US State Department. To be sure, the NYRB would muster a measure of indignation over the most egregious US adventures, particularly when they threatened to blemish the US image as the New Jerusalem.

Even with the Cold War behind us, the NYRB maintains an active stable of virulent anti-Soviet writers, partly to hustle its back list of Cold War classics and obscure “dissident” scribblers, partly to pre-empt any serious anti-capitalist thought that might emerge shorn of Red-dread.

Paul Robeson on Trial

In a recent essay/book review (The Emperor Robeson, 2-08-18), the NYRB brought its Red-chopping hatchet to the legacy of Paul Robeson in a piece transparently ill-motivated and poisonous.

Paul Robeson was nothing if not an exceptional, courageous political figure who galvanized US racial and political affairs in mid-century. Yet NYRB assigned Simon Callow, a UK theater personality, to the writing task despite the fact that he reveals in an interview cited in Wikipedia that “I’m not really an activist, although I am aware that there are some political acts one can do that actually make a difference…” And his essay bears out this confession along with his embarrassing ignorance of US history and the dynamics of US politics.

Callow begins his essay seemingly determined to prove his inadequacy to the task: “When I was growing up in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, Paul Robeson was much in evidence… His name was haloed with the sort of respect accorded to few performers…” He then goes on at some length, heaping praise on Robeson. Then suddenly at “some point in the 1960s, he faded from our view…”

Whether Callow’s impressions are reflective of the UK experience is irrelevant. Surely, the important truth, the relevant fact, is that in Robeson’s country– the US– he was, throughout that time, a veritable non-person, the victim of a merciless witch hunt. To fail to acknowledge the fact that Robeson and his work were virtually unknown, were erased by the thought police, underscores Callow’s unfitness to discuss Robeson’s career. Indeed, members of the crowd that sought, at that time, to put lipstick on the ugly pig of racism and anti-Communism were soon to found the NYRB.

To say, as Callow does, that before the Cold War Robeson was “…lionized on both sides of the Atlantic…” is to display an unbelievable ignorance of the racial divide in the US. Robeson’s unequalled command of and success at multiple disciplines failed to spare him the indignities and inequalities that befell all African Americans in that era of US apartheid.

As for the post-World War II Red-scare, Callow simply ignores it as if it never occurred. Never mind the harassment, the surveillance, the denied careers, the confiscated passports, and the HUAC subpoenas that Robeson, like thousands of others, suffered from a hysterical, vicious anti-Communist witch hunt. For Callow, Robeson’s problems spring from a meeting granted by then President Truman in which Robeson had the audacity to make demands on his government. “From that moment on…” Callow tells us, “…the government moved to discredit Robeson at every turn…”

What a deft, nimble way to skirt the suffocating, life-denying effects of an entire era of unbridled racism and anti-Communism.

And, from Callow’s myopic perspective, Robeson’s campaign for peace and Cold War sanity resulted in “…universal approbation turned overnight into nearly universal condemnation.” For Callow, standing for peace against the tide of mindless conformity and mass panic is not the mark of courage and integrity, but a tragic career move.

In contrast to Paul Robeson’s life-long defiance of unjust power, Callow attributes a different approach to Robeson’s father, William: “But the lesson was clear: the only way out of poverty and humiliation was hard, hard work– working harder than any white man would have to, to achieve a comparable result.” One waits futilely to read that this reality is precisely what son, Paul, was trying to correct.

Like so many of today’s belated, measured “admirers” of Paul Robeson, Callow cannot resist delving into Robeson’s sexual proclivities, an interest which bears relevance that frankly escapes me. Similarly, Callow raises the matter of Robeson’s mental health and his withdrawal from public life.

Rather than considering the toll that decades of selfless struggle and tenacious resistance might have taken on Robeson’s body and mind, as it did countless other victims of the Red Scare, Callow contrives different explanations. “Robeson, it is clear, knew that his dream was just that: that the reality was otherwise. But he had to maintain his faith, otherwise what else was there?” So, for Callow, Robeson’s bad faith was responsible for mental issues and ill health. It was not a medical condition, the emotional stress of racism, or the repression of his political views that explain his decline. Instead, it was the consequences of bad politics.

Paraphrasing the author of a book on Robeson that Callow favors, he speculates that Robeson’s physical and mental decline “may have directly stemmed from the desperate requests from Robeson’s Russian friends to help them get out of the nightmarish world they found themselves in.” We are asked to believe that a man who resisted every temptation of success, defied the racial insults of his time, and steadfastly defended his commitment to socialism was brought to his knees by anti-Soviet media rumors? Certainly, there is no evidence for this outlandish claim.

Again, using author Jeff Sparrow (No Way But This: In Search of Paul Robeson) as his mouthpiece, Callow reveals his “problem” with Robeson: “…Robeson’s endorsement of Stalin and Stalin’s successors, his refusal to acknowledge what had been done in Stalin’s name, is the tragedy of his life.” In other words, like Budd Schulberg’s fictional snitch in On the Waterfront, if Robeson had only denounced his class, ratted on his friends, and bent to authority, he could have been a “contender” for the respect of liberals and the blessings of bourgeois success. But since he didn’t, his life was “a pitiful spectacle.”

Thankfully, there are still many who draw inspiration from the “pitiful spectacle” of Paul Robeson’s extraordinary life.

One Who Does

As if misunderstanding Robeson were not enough, Callow attacks a prominent scholar who does understand Robeson’s legacy. In contrast with his fawning review of the Sparrow book (“as different as chalk and cheese”), Callow demeans the contribution of one of the most gifted and thorough chroniclers of the page in history that included the life of Robeson. As a historian, Gerald Horne’s prodigious work stretches across books on such politically engaged Robeson contemporaries as WEB DuBois, Ben Davis, Ferdinand Smith, William Patterson, Shirley Graham DuBois, and John Howard Lawson. His writings explore the blacklist and The Civil Rights Congress, both keys to understanding Robeson and his time. In most cases, they represent the definitive histories of the subject.

But Callow prefers the shallow Sparrow account that substitutes the overused literary devices of “in search of../searching for…” to mask its limited scholarly ambition.

Callow is baffled by Horne’s Paul Robeson: The Artist as Revolutionary. Horne’s insistence that Robeson was a ‘revolutionary’ makes Callow apoplectic (“…page after page…”). But if Robeson was not an authentic, modern US revolutionary, then who was?

Callow cannot find a “clear picture of Robeson’s personality” in the Horne account, a conclusion that probably should not trouble Horne who seems more interested in history rather than psychology.

Callow’s sensibilities are especially offended by Horne’s depiction of the odious Winston Churchill, the man many believe to share responsibility for the WWI blood bath at Gallipoli and the two million deaths in the Bengal famine of 1943. It seems that Horne’s words for the short, chubby, Champagne and Cognac-loving prima donna– “pudgy, cigar-chomping, alcohol-guzzling Tory” — struck Callow’s ears as “vulgar.”

But Callow spews his own venomous insults: Horne’s book lacks “…articulate analysis, his account is numbing and bewildering in equal measure, like being addressed from a dysfunctional megaphone…”

Horne’s concluding endorsement of the relevance of Marx and Engels famous slogan– Workers of the World, Unite! –really brings Callow’s rancor to a boil: “I’m sorry to break it to Mr. Horne, but he doesn’t. And it isn’t.”

We surely know which side of the barricades Simon Callow has chosen.

The Legacy

The legacy of Paul Robeson has been maintained for the four decades since his death by his comrades and allies of the left, principally the Communist left. Most of those who worked and fought alongside of him have also passed away. Yet a small, but dedicated group of a few academics and more political activists have continued to tell his story and defend his values against a torrent of hostility or a wall of silence. Through the decades, he has been forced out of the mainstream– the history books and popular culture.

Of course, he was not alone in suffering anonymity for his Communist politics. Another giant who was brought down by Cold War Lilliputians, denigrated by hollow mediocrities, was African American Communist, Claudia Jones. Until recently, her powerful thinking on race, women’s rights, and socialism could only be found by those willing to search dusty corners of used book stores.

Perhaps no one promised to live and further Robeson’s legacy than the young writer Lorraine Hansberry, celebrated before her tragic death for her popular play, A Raisin in the Sun. Her work with Robeson and WEB DuBois on the paper, Freedom, brought her politics further in line with theirs: militant anti-racist, anti-imperialist, pro-socialist, Communist.

Forgotten by those who wish to portray her as a mere cultural critic, she famously called out Robert Kennedy’s elitist, patronizing posture in a meeting with Black civil rights leaders as enthusiastically recalled by James Baldwin.

Ignored by those who would like to see her as simply another civil rights reformer, her speech at a Monthly Review fundraiser, shortly before her death, resounds with revolutionary fervor:

If the present Negro revolt is to turn into a revolution, become sophisticated in the most advanced ideas abroad in the world, a leadership which will have had exposure to the great ideas and movements of our time, a Negro leadership which can throw off the blindness of parochialism and bathe the aspirations of the Negro people in the realism of the twentieth century, a leadership which has no illusion about the nature of our oppression and will no longer hesitate to condemn, not only the results of that oppression, but also the true and inescapable cause of it—which of course is the present organization of American society.

Today, there is a renewed interest in Robeson, Claudia Jones, and Lorraine Hansberry. Articles, books, and documentaries are appearing or are in the works. Some are offering ‘new’ perspectives on the lives of these extraordinary people, exploring aspects of their lives that show that their humanity perhaps reached further than previously thought. Yes, they were Communists, but they were not just Communists. Indeed, they belong to the world.

However, it would be a great tragedy if they were denied their conviction that capitalism– the present organization of American society, in Hansberry’s words– represented the foundation of other oppressions. It would be criminally dishonest if there were no acknowledgement that they were made enemies of the state precisely because they embraced socialism. For an African American, in racist, Cold War mid-century USA, the decision to embrace Communism was not taken lightly or frivolously. Robeson, Jones, and Hansberry knew exactly what that commitment meant to the forces of repression. And they risked it. They should be looked upon as people’s champions for their courage.

New researchers are welcome to explore other dimensions of the lives of these unbending fighters for social justice. But their authentic legacies are needed now more than ever.

Greg Godels
Counterrevolution in the USSR – Mikhail V. Popov
worker | January 17, 2018 | 8:49 am | Analysis, struggle against anti-communism, struggle for socialism, USSR | Comments closed

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mikhail V. Popov – Counterrevolution in the USSR (Михаил Попов- Контрреволюция в СССР)

By Mikhail V. Popov.
Len.ru, 10 April 2017.

Transcript and translation by Srećko Vojvodić.

Now almost everybody understands that a counterrevolution took place in the USSR. It is so simple to see it since up until then there was socialism in the USSR, as a first phase of communism, whereas now we have a fully established capitalism in Russia. Therefore, it is not that only the counterrevolution happened, but also a restoration has taken place: all bourgeois institutions have been restored and we have a fully-fledged bourgeois state, with bourgeois democracy, as a form of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
When did this happen?
Initially, some people deemed that it happened somewhere between the end of 1990 and the beginning of 1991. However, a deeper analysis shows that it was not so. Things do not happen that way.
Transitions from one system to another do not happen instantaneously in history. Let us review some examples. The transition from capitalism to communism took 18 years in Russia and the USSR: between 1917 and 1935. And how long did the transition between the first phase of communism back to capitalism take? This is the question to be deliberated.
When is a state socialist? A state is socialist if the working class holds the power in it. And when does the working class hold the power? The working class holds the power when the dictatorship of the proletariat is being implemented.
Then what is the dictatorship of the proletariat? The dictatorship of the proletariat is, as indicated in Lenin’s Great Beginning, a scientific, Latin-derived, historical-philosophical expression, meaning that only a specific social class, namely urban, factory-based industrial workers are able to lead the whole mass of working and exploited people in the fight for a complete destruction of all classes. To be explicit, this means not only the liquidation of the exploiting classes, but also the elimination of the differences between the city and the countryside, between men of physical and intellectual work.
Then there is another definition of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which fits our needs in deliberating the counterrevolution in the USSR even better, although it does not contradict the previous definition. This other definition was given by Lenin in his book ‘Left-Wing’ Communism: an Infantile Disorder, and says: “The dictatorship of the proletariat is a persistent struggle, bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economical, pedagogical and administrative, against forces and traditions of the old society.”
Well, if we pose the following questions:
  • Are the forces and traditions of the old society disappearing under socialism?
  • Is not the class struggle waged under socialism against petty bourgeois mentality and attitudes?
  • Has the working class under socialism completed its task, and have all social classes been completely destroyed, effectively ending class struggle against petty bourgeois mentality and attitudes?
then the answer is:
  • If you do not fight them, then they fight you!
These are the petty bourgeois mentality and attitudes, which are present and which contradict the interests of the working people in a socialist society. Therefore, if we formulate the questions that way, it will become clear as to when the counterrevolution took place in the USSR: the counterrevolution took place in the USSR when the ruling party voted in its congress for the removal from its program of the centerpiece of Marxism, which is the dictatorship of the proletariat. This happened in 1961, at the XXII Congress. That meant that this Party did not want to wage a persistent struggle against forces and traditions of the old society any more, that it did not want to wage this struggle any more either as a party, or as a leading force of the society, i.e. as a political party, holding in its hands the political power in the state. Consequently, based on the decision of the XXII Congress, the state changed instantaneously its nature: once a state of the dictatorship of the proletariat, it became a state of the opposite nature.
What does this mean: a state of the opposite nature? It means: the bourgeois state. Some people ask “but where was the bourgeoisie?“ assuming that there was no bourgeoisie under socialism. That is true; there was no bourgeoisie – until the very moment, when this decision was made! However, as soon as it was made, what happened to the state apparatus, which managed the whole economic and political life? It started consisting of those people who, de facto, had a grip on the means of production. Then, if they earlier had to run those means of production for the sake of satisfying the needs of the whole society, in the interests of the working class – which expresses interests of all working people, now they became able to run those means of production for their own interests. In fact, it became their duty! A caste was thus formed which used the means of production for its own interests.
In general, state ownership – if we are talking about it – is not identical to social ownership. State ownership is a form of social ownership only if the state belongs to the working class and acts in the interests of the working class. Therefore, as soon as the state ceases to act in the interests of the working class, the state property becomes property of a part of the society, and the property of a part of the society is private property. That way, beginning in 1961, private property of the ruling nomenclature’s highest echelon appeared in the USSR.
Well, this private property was collectively owned – just as it is in any joint-stock company. In any such corporation private property is not individual, it belongs to all stockholders. In Russia, it happened that initially there was no fragmentation to individual stockholders; instead, everybody of this whole nomenclature highest echelon held it together in their hands. It should be noted that at this level of power only rare individuals remained in working-class positions, while everybody else jumped at the chance to appropriate this common, state property – which was no longer a social property.
We may say that the best solution was found in Belarus. They did not undertake a fragmentation of this common private property. Therefore, state property, as a large private property, remained there. However, in the rest of the USSR, at the easy hands of Chubais, Gaidar and other ideologues: Nemtsov, Iavlinskii, Boldirev and other gurus of liberal capitalism, which did not grow up even to the imperialism, to the state monopoly capitalism, a decision was made to squander this state property, to tear it down to smithereens.
This carve-up did not happen all at once. It was necessary first to bend the adversary; it was necessary to solve the problem that Nikita Khrushchov was solving when he put up the shooting of workers, and their children, in Novocherkassk in 1962. I think that anybody who will be considering this historical fact will have to conclude that if workers were being shot upon orders of the government head, then such a state was not exactly a working class state.
Now, what those workers were demanding? They were demanding only that prices not be increased and tariffs not lowered – the same thing that workers demand all over the world. This is a demand for which nobody in the world, even in the bourgeois world, shoots at workers. Therefore, in this aspect, Khrushchov spat even over those who carry out the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie in other countries. Because of this, one may say that so begins, since 1961, the transition stretch from the first phase of communism to capitalism and further, that a political revolution took place at the XXII Congress in 1961.
Accordingly, if we use the term “revolution” to denote transition from one economic order to another then such a process is very lengthy. It is evident that it lasted from 1961 to 1991 – which is a 30 years span – and it is much longer than the 18 years [needed for the transition from capitalism to communism, first in Russia, and then in the whole USSR].
This pushes against the popular notion that the Soviet Union “broke up”. No, it did not break up, it was fought against, from inside and from outside. By both traitors to the cause of socialism, to the cause of the Communist Party and to the cause of the working class within the top leadership, and by the external forces that were invited during Ieltsin’s years into all ministries, to reconstruct everything as a capitalist economy, and to direct it, not even towards interests of the Russian bourgeoisie, but towards the interests of foreign bourgeoisie, and especially those of the American bourgeoisie.
So the whole thing was long lasting, and bears no similarity with a “breakup” of the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union resisted for a very long time and we know that there were forces that resisted.
In 1989 the Unified Front of Working People was constituted and I participated in it, together with comrades Pizhov and Krasavin, as candidates for people’s representatives of the USSR from the national-territorial ward of Leningrad. We constituted the Leningrad Section of the Unified Front of Working People and then another such section was constituted in Moscow. Finally, a Joint Front of Working People of Russia was constituted – with the support of our trade unions, of some Party organs and some Party cadres.
The Joint Front of Working People nominated Gen. Makashov for President and Dr. Sergueiev (Economics) – who used to be my Ph.D. thesis opponent – for Vice President, while I was Gen. Makashov’s Advisor. Therefore, it is impossible to say that nobody resisted – as a matter of fact, we resisted a lot. We had constitutive congresses of the communists of Russia – because all Party members who were in the Joint Front organized this constitutive movement, which stood against Gorbachov’s cupula, wrote a corresponding program and in this program we wrote: “Expel from the Party Gorbachov’s anti-communist faction conducting anti-people’s policies.” In my capacity of member of Leningrad Regional Committee, I moved a motion to vote on this proposal at a plenary session of the Leningrad Regional Committee. However, only 17 members of the Committee voted in favour of it, while some people who used to speak a lot about communism, such as Bielov, did not support my motion. They did not want to vote against Gorbachov.
We defended this demand: Dolgov, Jelmeiev and I. We collected Party organizations’ decisions, succeeded in constituting the Communist Party of the RSFSR and participated in authoring its Program. There was no revisionism in this Program and, therefore, those who wanted us to go to capitalism under red flags had to shut down both the CPSU and the CPRSFSR. Well, that was an openly counterrevolutionary action of Yeltsin’s power structure.
At the same time, this struggle never ceased. Russian Communist Workers’ Party and after that Workers’ Party of Russia was constituted – which means that forces, opposed to the counterrevolution, have been acting and keep on acting.
In conclusion, we have to answer the questions from the beginning: “When the counterrevolution began in the USSR, what was its course and what did it consist of?” Here is the answer:
The counterrevolution in the USSR took place in 1961 but its preparations began in 1956 and even earlier. Judging by the attitude towards the foremost person who fought for socialism – comrade Stalin, of his former comrades-in-arms, indicates that even in the Central Committee a counterrevolutionary and anti-communist group was formed. Judging by their voting at the Congress, how they voted unanimously against the dictatorship of the proletariat, it becomes evident how they selected the Congress delegates – which means that Khrushchov’s group functioned well and, not accidentally, managed to intimidate Party officials by killing Beria because this is a dark affair and it is understandable that, as we were told then that Beria was an English spy, it was a fairly ridiculous accusation since Beria supervised both the nuclear program and the missile program, while building, at the same time, Moscow State University. Therefore, when such things are published, and we were observing that those people, who glorified Stalin and, so to say, were putting him on the shield, did not utter a single loud word in his defense during all this time, then it becomes clear why only much later the first pronouncements and correct evaluations of Stalin’s work began – which are now dominant, we may say. At that time, however, nothing of that kind could be heard.
This is what we can say briefly about the counterrevolution in the USSR.

* Mikhail Vasilyevich Popov is a Professor of the Department of Economics and Law at Saint Peterburg State University.