Month: December, 2018
Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
worker | December 23, 2018 | 9:24 pm | USSR | Comments closed

  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
© Sputnik / Lev Ustinov
People dance at the New Year’s ball in 1974.

New Year was a special, long-awaited holiday for a Soviet person, as the preparations for the festivities turned into an almost heroic effort, which many people now remember that painstaking work with nostalgia.

The Soviet Union officially celebrated the New Year holiday for the first time in 1935. New Year’s traditions also appeared during Soviet times, people bought tangerines, made Olivier salad, and listened to the Kremlin’s chimes, during which it was obligatory to make a wish. Later, the tradition of the state leader addressing the country’s citizens a few minutes before midnight appeared.

Beware of Trumps bearing gifts
worker | December 23, 2018 | 8:45 am | Afghanistan, Donald Trump, Struggle for Peace, Syria | 1 Comment

By J. Thompson

Leftists and Peaceniks everywhere are celebrating Trump’s order to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan. It should be celebrated as it is the right thing to do.

Does this mean that people of conscience can now rest with this apparent victory?

Hell, no! Trump is still Trump. Fascism is still fascism. A wolf in sheep’s clothes is still a wolf. Evil is still evil. Genocide is still genocide.

Trump is pulling the troops out, but where will they go? Trump has given us some hints. He has shut down the government because he wants money for his shameful wall. He recently sent troops to the border with Mexico. Does he want to send more troops to the border? Is the US preparing plans to invade our neighbors to the South?

It is clear that the US has its sites set on Cuba, and Venezuela. What is the US preparing for the new leftist President of Mexico?

People of conscience need to prepare to oppose any further military aggression by the US. Otherwise, our fearful leaders will flush workers down the toilet of a devastating World War.

Black Alliance for Peace Says It’s About Time the United States Ends the Illegal Presence in Syria and Withdraws from Afghanistan
worker | December 22, 2018 | 7:17 pm | Africa, Donald Trump, Struggle for Peace, Syria | 1 Comment
DECEMBER 21, 2018 A real panic among the militarists and flunkeys of the military-industrial complex: They are concerned the U.S. president has gone completely off the ruling-class imperialist script. We find that hard to believe, since a move away from militarism and violence would indicate a fundamental departure from the very essence of the methods and strategy that created the United States. We are on land violently stolen from Indigenous peoples, then used to execute a brutal super-exploitation of enslaved African labor to amass imperialist wealth. That wealth was then used to ultimately elevate the United States to a world power after the second imperialist war in 1945.
But with the announcement by Trump that U.S. troops will be pulled out of Syria and troop strength reduced in the never-ending war in Afghanistan, the ruling-class propagandists pretending to be journalists at CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the rest, have sounded the alarm of pending doom for the empire if the bipartisan commitment to international gangsterism is abandoned by this president.
We in the Black Alliance for Peace don’t praise a U.S. president for ending the illegal subversion, invasion and occupation of a sovereign state that should have never been allowed in the first place by theoretical representatives of the people in the U.S. Congress. If the Trump administration is serious about the full and rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, we say it’s about time. We expect a full withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Syria, including the mercenary components referred to as contractors. We also say troop reduction is not enough end the war in Afghanistan with a complete and total withdrawal of U.S. forces.
We denounce those elements in the corporate press, the establishment voices in the duopoly, and liberal and left acolytes of the warmongering ruling class who have taken upon themselves to confuse and manipulate the public into believing that permanent war is both rational and inevitable. The $6 trillion dollars of public resources transferred from the pockets of the people to the military-industrial complex over the last two decades to execute wars and occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, has also caused unspeakable misery for millions of people, the destruction of ancient cities, the displacement of millions of people and now millions of lives eliminated by U.S. bombs, missiles, chemicals and bullets. All who have remained silent or have given direct or even indirect support to these bipartisan war policies are morally culpable. We are extremely skeptical about the administration’s announcement we know from painful experience and from our understanding of the history of this state, that the United States has never voluntarily withdrawn from one of its imperialist adventures. Therefore, the Black Alliance for Peace will continue to demand that the United States withdraw from Syria until every U.S. asset is out of the country.
The final resolution of the U.S.-led war in Syria must be determined by Syrians themselves. All foreign forces must recognize and respect the sovereignty of the Syrian people and their legal representatives. If peace is a real possibility for the people of Syria, it is only the most cynical who would undermine that possibility for partisan political purposes. But we know that the lives of People of color means nothing for some of the loudest critics of Trump’s decision. Many of those same critics don’t see any contradiction in condemning Putin and the Russians while embracing Netanyahu and the Israeli apartheid state that fires live ammunition into the bodies of unarmed Palestinians.
But in the tradition of our ancestors who understood the infinite connection of all of humanity and who resisted systematic degradation, the Black Alliance for Peace will continue to raise our voice in support of peace. Yet, we know that without justice there can be no peace. We must struggle to obtain justice.
U.S. out of Syria! U.S. out of Africa! Shut down AFRICOM and all NATO bases! Reallocate the people’s resources from funding war to realizing the human rights of all people, not just the 1 percent!
Media contacts: Ajamu Baraka and ,
Trumpa Dumpa
worker | December 21, 2018 | 5:07 am | Donald Trump | Comments closed

Trump in his proper place

By J. Thompson

Trumpa Dumpa sat on a wall. Trumpa Dumpa had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Trumpa back together again.

Note: Trumpa is Mexican slang for “pig face,” i.e. capitalist pig.

Back to USSR: Record number of Russians regret collapse of Soviet Union
worker | December 20, 2018 | 7:49 pm | Russia, USSR | 1 Comment

Back to USSR: Record number of Russians regret collapse of Soviet Union

Back to USSR: Record number of Russians regret collapse of Soviet Union
The number of Russians who want to go back to the USSR has reached 66 percent in 2018, setting a 15-year record, a fresh poll revealed.

It’s an 8 percent increase compared to last year when 58 percent of those surveyed said to the question if they regretted the fall of the Soviet Union, the Levada-Center poll said.

The numbers have never exceeded 65 percent since 2004, while the absolute record was set in 2000, when 75 percent gave an affirmative response. Levada-Center has started asking the population this question in 1992, a year after the USSR fell apart.

The majority of those nostalgic for the Soviet Union were people older than 55. However, in recent years such moods have also been growing among those aged between 18 and 24 years, the pollster said.

60 percent of the respondents also expressed the belief that the collapse of the USSR could’ve been prevented.

Also on ˜Learn some history, boy! Young Communist MP under fire for calling Gulag a good thing The people mainly miss the Soviet Union because of the destruction of the joint economic system of its 15 republics (52 percent); the loss of a sense of belonging to a great power (36 percent) and the growth of mutual distrust and enmity among former countrymen (31 percent).

The increase in the number of those missing the USSR was triggered by this year’s pension reform, which increased the retirement age by five years, Karina Pipiya, a Levada-Center researcher, said.

The people usually explain their nostalgia for the Soviet Union with mainly irrational perceptions about the strong economy and prosperity during that period, completely forgetting about the lack of essential goods and the food stamp system, she said.

Romantic attitude towards everything Soviet and lack of historic knowledge among the younger generations may lead to dangerous consequences, including rehabilitation of the Stalin’s Purge, rewriting history and complete devaluations of the democratic reforms [in Russia], Pipiya warned.

1600 people from 136 towns and villages in Russia took part in the survey, which was carried out by Levada-Center between November 22 and 28.

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Where to Begin?
worker | December 18, 2018 | 7:35 pm | V.I. Lenin | 1 Comment

…they take from Marxism all that is acceptable to the liberal bourgeoisie, …cast aside only the living soul of Marxism, its revolutionary content. VI Lenin The Collapse of the Second International

Standing with me on a cold corner with a sign urging bank disinvestment, a venerated comrade reminded me of the lasting value of Vladimir Lenin’s What Is To Be Done?. Food for thought: while we read this classic in our political youth, does it retain its relevance as we gain experience and mature?

What Is To Be Done? began as a promissory note to expand a polemical sketch written in May of 1901 entitled Where to Begin. The question lingered in Lenin’s mind for nearly a year before the lengthy pamphlet emerged.

What Is To Be Done? is not an easy read. It is filled with esoteric references to journals, personalities, and events specific to turn-of-the-last-century Russia, as well as unusually named political tendencies. It is easy to confuse the various Rabochaya or Rabocheye (workers newspapers) or forget the meaning of Economism, Narodnism, or legal Marxism.

But Lenin’s goals can be put rather simply:

Identify the political trends or tendencies that are obstacles to advancing to socialism.

Establish conditions necessary for the advancement to socialism.

Every step of real movement is more important than a dozen programmes. Martynov The movement is everything, the final aim is nothing. Bernstein

For Lenin, the epigrams pronounced by A.S. Martynov and Eduard Bernstein– a German theoretician of socialist gradualism– were symptomatic of an infection to the body of revolutionary socialism. For those socialists, socialism was simply the product of the struggle for reforms, an inevitable final step or stage in the evolution of the workers movement. Set in motion, political and economic struggle would– on its own– through timid zigzags (Lenin’s characterization) ultimately lead to socialism.

In Lenin’s words, they and their adherents imagine that movements …pure and simple can elaborate, and will elaborate, an independent ideology for itself, if only the workers wrest their fate from the hands of the leaders. They submit that it is bureaucratic and foot-dragging trade union and political leaders who retard the natural evolution of reformism toward discarding capitalism and constructing socialism.

Democracy+continual reforms=socialism, in the minds of Martynov, Bernstein, the French socialist Millerand, the German socialist Georg von Vollmar and their ilk.

Lenin regards these views as a sharp departure (revision) of the theory of revolutionary socialism, a departure based upon the unjustifiable faith in spontaneity. He views spontaneity as a key concept in understanding both the potential of struggle and its limits. Using the industrial strikes of 1896 in Russia as an example, he shows that the working class movement and the people’s movement will always generate a fight back, a response to exploitation and oppression. But it will always be limited to immediate grievances and immediate remedies without the further introduction of a conscious element, a leap to attacking capitalism itself. The idea that spontaneous political motion will, by itself, find its way to socialism is a false and harmful illusion.

Defiance, resistance, sabotage, demonstrating, civil disobedience, etc. are largely spontaneous responses of individuals or groups; strikes, planned actions with demands, political initiatives, and other collective actions are often spontaneous, in Lenin’s sense, but nothing more nor less than consciousness in an embryonic form. Because they have elements of planning and goals, though limited and immediate, these struggles offer the potential for more radical, more profound change. They lack only ideology, organization, and a program of advancement, elements that must come from a united, disciplined, and committed group of socialist partisans. Those partisans must bring a vision beyond simple reformism to provide the tools for overthrowing the grip of capitalist social and economic relations.

[R.M. writing in Rabochaya Mysl says:] That struggle is desirable which is possible, and the struggle which is possible is that which is going on at the given moment. This is precisely the trend of unbounded opportunism, which passively adopts itself to spontaneity. (Lenin) [my emphasis]

The embrace of spontaneity as the wellspring of political and social change is identified by Lenin with withdrawal from the struggle for qualitative change, from meaningful engagement with the source of exploitation and oppression. This surrender to realism, pragmatism, the possible is opportunistic because it courts respectability or an easy legitimacy and compromises the fight for the liberation of working people from the chains of exploitation to garner the nearest goals of the closest moment.

We have said that there could not have been Social-Democratic [socialist] consciousness among the workers. It would have to be brought to them from without. The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade-union consciousness, i.e., the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers, and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labor legislation, etc. The theory of socialism arose as a natural and inevitable outcome of the development of thought among the revolutionary socialist intelligentsia (Lenin)

Lenin’s distinction between trade-union consciousness and socialist consciousness holds true, over a hundred years later. No events since have shown Lenin’s assessment to be wrong. No working class or popular movement has taken up socialism without its introduction from outside the movement, typically through a socialist political organization. In a world dominated by the ideology of capitalism, in the course of the drab ordinary struggle, the idea of socialism is alien. It is the task of dedicated socialist revolutionaries– armed with a program and of one mind– to bring socialist consciousness to the popular movements.

Those like the Russian acolytes of Bernstein in Lenin’s time– the Economists, the legal Marxists, the Socialist Revolutionaries– …kneel in prayer to spontaneity, gazing with awe (to take an expression from Plekhanov) upon the posterior of the proletariat.

The Communist movement coined the term tailism to more politely capture Plekhanov’s vivid description of political opportunism. Slavishly deferring to the drab, everyday struggles of the trade union movement or the spontaneous peoples movement will get us no closer to socialism.

Political forces will invariably arise that promise to spur spontaneous action by the popular masses through acts of terrorism; they intend to excite the working class, to give it strong impetus to press its supposedly latent radicalism. For Lenin, this is equally a departure from sound revolutionary strategy. Like reformism (Economism), the anarchism of the act (early Narodism and the Socialist Revolutionaries) fails to recognize a role for determined agitating and organizing the people for the overthrow of capitalism and the building of socialism.

Revolutionaries are not aloof from the fight for democratic reforms: He is no Social-Democrat [revolutionary] who forgets in practice his obligation to be ahead of all in raising, accentuating, and solving every general democratic question. [Lenin’s emphasis]. But Lenin also emphasizes that this practice must not for a moment [conceal] our socialist conviction.

But revolutionaries should not be confused into thinking that the fight for democratic reforms is more than it is: Trade-unionist politics of the working class is precisely bourgeois politics of the working class. [Lenin’s emphasis]

Give us an organization of revolutionaries, and we will overturn Russia!

Lenin’s famous proclamation is not an idle boast, but a concise statement of the necessity of an organization of committed, dedicated revolutionaries placing the struggle for socialism above all.

The task before the revolutionary movement is to develop and maintain working class leadership of the popular movements while shedding the patronizing attitude of delivering only that which is accessible to the masses. Recognizing the excellently trained enemy, Lenin insists that revolution must be a profession, combining the skills of propagandist, organizer, and agitator. The revolutionaries must develop tools: leaflets, pamphlets, books, etc., but most importantly a national organ (newspaper, website, etc.) that serves as a collective propagandist, agitator, and organizer, a tool for raising a definitive political line and rallying and making contact with followers.

Of course socialist revolutionaries must come together as an organization, as a party, as a vehicle for overthrowing capitalism. A loose-knit, independent scattering of even the most dedicated revolutionaries could hardly pose a threat to the forces and resources defending capitalism and its ruling class. That party must bring to the masses a program, a road map leading to socialism above all else.

Lenin stresses that a revolutionary organization cannot be seduced by the sirens of primitive or toy democracy, the false radicalism of direct representation so often advocated by young intellectuals and anarchists. Lenin cites the experiences of Sidney and Beatrice Webb (Fabian Society) and Karl Kautsky (German Social Democratic Party)– two sources at odds with Leninism– on their negative practical experiences with the folly of strict referenda democracy. Lenin recognized that direct democratic decision-making under the harsh, war-like conditions imposed by battling capitalism was sheerly utopian.

These are the answers that Lenin gave in his time to the question What Is To Be Done?

Twenty-first Century Relevance?

Does Lenin’s revolutionary theory hold relevance for the struggles of today?

Over generations, Lenin’s insights, admonitions, strategies, and tactics have been muted, diluted, or revised by many prominent left-wing thinkers in capitalist countries. The seduction of parliamentary politics, the burnished image of bourgeois democracy, doubts about the working class as a force for change, the rise of cultural and life-style radicalism combined with many other factors to distract the left from the revolutionary socialist program. The Cold War and the demonization of Communism further prodded the US and much of the academic and student Western European left to distance itself from Leninism. The ABC phenomenon– Anything But Communism– became deeply embedded in the radicalism of the late twentieth century. A new left– purposefully new in order to dissociate from Leninism and Cold War ostracization– sought new forms of radicalism, new approaches to struggle, new types of organizations.

Ironically, the New Left found answers that already failed in the past, in the kinds of politics toward which Lenin had earlier targeted his ideological weapons. And today’s US and European left reproduces many of the same tendencies.

It has been a common thread weaving through the US left that so-called participatory democracy is the foundation of radical politics and emancipatory or empowering for oppositional movements. From the New Left of the sixties to the Occupy and Indignados movements, this approach has been foundational. The fetish for procedure has not only overshadowed establishing a common program, but often blocked the achievement of one.

Organizationally, the insistence upon participatory democracy is stiflingly rigid. It fails to acknowledge the various types of democracy: direct, representational, ballot, referenda, etc.; it fails to recognize the appropriateness of the different types by time, place, and circumstance; and it fails to grasp the organizational fit of different democratic modes.

Accordingly, obsessive participatory, direct democracy becomes an obstacle to the establishment of an effective revolutionary organization charged with the tasks of building a movement for socialism to face the gale forces of the immensely powerful resources and the security apparatuses of a ruthless ruling class. Revolutionary movements must respect democratic norms, but not the cult of procedure that Lenin mocks as toy or primitive democracy.

Occupy and similar movements have floundered on the rocks of organizational chaos grounded in procedural sectarianism, a failure to establish efficient and effective leadership channels. Many once-promising movements fall as quickly as they rise without the appropriate, effective democratic standards.

It is a commonplace with today’s left to assume that removing the brakes that are thought to be restraining broad movements– typically bureaucratic, entrenched leaders– will in itself unleash worker or mass action. On this view, existing popular institutions– trade unions, political parties, advocacy organizations, etc.– only need fresh, democratically elected leaders to unleash the march toward a better world, towards socialism. Rather than tackling the difficult task of planting the germ of socialist thought into the movements, modern-day US leftists too often expect to see the idea of replacing capitalism– the commitment to socialism– flower spontaneously.

History knows of no serious challenge to capitalism emerging automatically, without the intervention of a revolutionary organization. Nonetheless, many in the US left deny the necessity or the desirability of a Leninist organization of revolutionaries. Instead, they count on the magical, spontaneous emergence of a socialist consciousness where none existed before. Swayed by Cold War dogma, they unthinkingly fear the ogre of vanguardism.

Despite many lifetimes of shredded hopes of taming capitalism by working for change within the Democratic Party, a new generation of idealistic youth are placing their hopes in the Democratic Party and a class collaborationist trade union movement. They follow modern day legal Marxists and other theorists of social democracy who ask them to kneel in prayer to spontaneity, expecting a radical vision to spring forth without the intercession of a revolutionary organization. Tailing bourgeois institutions and workers organizations umbilically linked to bourgeois institutions can only bring bourgeois politics, paraphrasing Lenin.

With dissatisfaction and anger growing, with confrontation intensifying, and with more and more institutions and authority discredited, the need for effective responses grows. Over a hundred years ago, Lenin’s famous pamphlet What Is To Be Done? cleared much of the ideological underbrush, discarded most of the false roads and missteps foiling a movement for socialism.

Today, these false roads, missteps, and ideological thickets again block the road to twenty-first-century socialism.

What Is To Be Done? demonstrates the need for a political organization of ardent, committed revolutionaries, united with a program to overthrow capitalism. Since the retreat of Communism, Leninism has unfortunately been discarded by many on the left. But the wisdom of Lenin’s pamphlet is needed now more than ever.

Greg Godels


Solidarity with the people of Yemen!
worker | December 17, 2018 | 7:47 pm | A. Shaw, Bernie Sanders, Yemen | Comments closed

By A. Shaw and J. Thompson

The people of Yemen are being slaughtered with a savagery many believe is beyond barbarity.

The USA regime is leading the Saudi Arabian savage attack on the people of Yemen. The USA regime supplies the reactionary Saudi forces with weapons, funds, intelligence, political support, diplomatic support and logistical support. The USA regime pretends that it is under the domination of Saudi Arabia. This Saudi dominance of the USA is supposed to explain why the Saudis are leading US forces in the war. But the idea of US subservience to the Saudi reactionaries is ludicrous. The USA has led the pack of savages in the slaughter of more than 15 million all along.

This savagery has to stop. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced a resolution to end US military support of the Saudi atrocities. Working people must support all legislation to end of the USA military support of the Saudi genocide in Yemen.