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Stalinism

Baruch Hirson: The South African left and the Russian connection (1991)

Marxism in South Africa - Past, Present, & Future

September 6-8, 1991

NATO's Balkan war and the Kosova liberation struggle

By Doug Lorimer

[The general line of this report was adopted by the June 12-14, 1999 DSP National Committee plenum. Text is taken from The Activist, volume 9, number 5, 1999]

On Wednesday March 24, 1999, the secretary-general of NATO, former Spanish social-democratic minister of culture Javier Solana, told a press conference: "I have just given the order to the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, United States General Wesley Clark, to begin air operations against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."

The following day 371 NATO warplanes undertook bombing raids and six NATO warships in the Adriatic launched cruise missiles against targets in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Between March 25 and the cessation of NATO bombing raids on June 9, more than 30,000 combat missions had been flown by NATO warplanes against Yugoslavia. Thousands of civilians in Serbia have been killed or wounded. Millions of Serbian workers are now living without electricity, or water, or jobs. Factories, power stations, houses, hospitals, bridges and roads have been destroyed or damaged. The destruction of oil refineries and petrochemical plants have poisoned the air, rivers and soil of Serbia with toxic products. It has been estimated that the reconstruction of damaged or destroyed infrastructure will cost between $US15-50 billion.

Che Guevara's final verdict on the Soviet economy

By John Riddell

June 8, 2008 -- One of the most important developments in Cuban Marxism in recent years has been increased attention to the writings of Ernesto Che Guevara on the economics and politics of the transition to socialism.

A milestone in this process was the publication in 2006 by Ocean Press and Cuba's Centro de Estudios Che Guevara of Apuntes criticos a la economía política [Critical Notes on Political Economy], a collection of Che's writings from the years 1962 to 1965, many of them previously unpublished. The book includes a lengthy excerpt from a letter to Fidel Castro, entitled ``Some Thoughts on the Transition to Socialism''. In it, in extremely condensed comments, Che presented his views on economic development in the Soviet Union.[1]

In 1965, the Soviet economy stood at the end of a period of rapid growth that had brought improvements to the still very low living standards of working people. Soviet prestige had been enhanced by engineering successes in defence production and space exploration. Most Western observers then considered that it showed more dynamism than its US counterpart.

At that time, almost the entire Soviet productive economy was owned by the state. It was managed by a privileged bureaucracy that consolidated its control in the 1920s under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. Managers were rewarded on the basis of fulfilling production norms laid down from above; workers were commonly paid by the piece.

China: Socialist revolution and capitalist restoration

By Chris Slee

The Chinese revolution was one of the most important events of the twentieth century. The victory of the revolution in 1949 was a major defeat for imperialism. The new Communist Party government carried out democratic measures such as land reform, and improved the conditions of workers and peasants through the spread of health care and literacy. It began expropriating industry, and within a few years had nationalised all capitalist enterprises. It proclaimed that the revolution had entered the socialist stage.

A Lego recreation of Jeff Widener's 1989 photograph of "The unknown rebel".

 

But the new state was bureaucratically distorted from its inception. The bureaucrats enjoyed substantial privileges. They repressed dissent amongst workers, peasants, students and intellectuals. And they engaged in violent power struggles amongst themselves, undermining the gains of the revolution.

Looking back on the Beijing massacre

By Liang Guosheng

On June 4, 1989, troops, armoured personnel carriers and tanks of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) forced their way through human and constructed barricades into central Beijing, taking control of Tiananmen Square. In the process, according to an estimate by Amnesty International soon afterwards, approximately 1000 unarmed protesters were gunned down or otherwise killed.

Numerous eyewitness accounts confirmed the extent of the massacre. The dead were students and other Beijing workers and residents who had gathered the previous evening to protest against the PLA's forced entry into central Beijing and the square, which on May 20 Premier Li Peng had declared a martial law district.

During the last seven years more eyewitness interviews, analytical articles and quite a range of books have been published concerned with what has come to be termed the 1989 Democracy Movement and Beijing Massacre. More recent works have also covered the ensuing government crackdown and the fate of those protesters captured by the government, executed or imprisoned.

¿La Unión Soviética, estado sin partido?

Reseña crítica de Alex Miller

El siglo soviético
por Moshe Lewin
Verso 2005
416 páginas

Los medios comerciales y las élites intelectuales capitalistas han promulgado un estereotipo sobre la Unión Soviética: una línea ideológica directa y sin interrupciones lleva del bolchevismo de la revolución de 1917 al totalitarismo del período stalinista (1920-1953), pasa por el período post-stalinista desde 1953 y termina en el colapso del régimen soviético en 1991. Normalmente, se esgrime el estereotipo contra el bolchevismo, y en realidad contra cualquier forma de marxismo revolucionario: se usa el estancamiento y la declinación post-stalinistas, así como las masacres y purgas del período stalinista, para elaborar una reducción al absurdo de las aspiraciones originales de la revolución de 1917.

The Soviet Union: a no-party state?

Review by Alex Miller

The Soviet Century
By Moshe Lewin
Verso 2005
416 pages

Orwell’s Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four: Critiques of Stalinism `from the left’?

Review by Alex Miller

This essay is the result of a re-reading of George Orwell’s two most famous novels. Both Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four have acquired the status of textbooks, and are routinely used in schools to demonstrate to children the inherent dangers of social revolution. It is time for a reappraisal.

The ``Centenary Edition’’ of George Orwell’s Animal Farm contains a preface written by Orwell for the first edition (Secker and Warburg, 1945) but never published, together with a preface that he wrote specially for a translation for displaced Ukrainians living under British and US administration after World War II.

* * *

Resistance against capitalist restoration in China

By Eva Cheng
Beginning in late 1978, the Communist Party of China's ``reform and door opening'' program has purportedly sought to strengthen China's socialist course by introducing market mechanisms to speed the development of the productive forces. However, by the 1990s, especially in the second half, when state-owned enterprises were privatised en masse, displacing numerous workers and increasingly depriving retired workers of their hard-earned entitlements, the CPC's claims of staying on the socialist path had become a subject of hot debate.

The corruption and degeneration of a section of the CPC were issues even before the so-called reform, and were certainly made worse by the influx of foreign capital in the 1980s. This added to growing frustration with workers' worsening plight, forming the backdrop to the student protests beginning in 1986-87 and escalating into a series of bold mobilisations in early 1989, which Beijing answered by massacring the protesters on June 4, 1989.

Theses on the class nature of the People's Republic of China

This resolution was adopted by the 18th Congress of the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia, held in Sydney, January 5-10, 1999.

I. Theoretical framework

1. For orthodox Marxists, as Lenin explained in his 1917 book The State and Revolution, the state is a centralised organisation of force separated from the community as a whole which enforces, through special bodies of armed people and other institutions of coercion, the will of one class, or an alliance of classes, upon the rest of society.

The left in Pakistan: a brief history

By Farooq Sulehria

Farooq Sulehria is a member of the Executive Committee of the Labour Party Pakistan and of the Editorial Board of Links.

Has the dictatorship over needs ended in eastern Europe?

By Laszlo Andor

Among state socialist countries, Hungary distinguished itself from the 1960s by introducing comprehensive economic reforms. These reforms, together with the so-called Prague Spring of Czechoslovakia, were typically interpreted as attempts to establish "socialism with a human face". A major feature of this new face was that the New Economic Mechanism[1] abandoned the Stalinist bias for forced accumulation and heavy industry, and improved the conditions of consumption and agriculture.

Theories of the USSR in light of its collapse

By Barry Sheppard

The collapse of "really existing socialism" in the USSR and Eastern Europe a decade ago came as a shock to all tendencies in the workers' movement and the political representatives of the capitalist class worldwide. No-one predicted such an outcome beforehand—no-one alive, that is. Why was this so?

To answer this question, it would be useful to review the differing views on the character of the USSR.

Stalin and his heirs claimed that the USSR had achieved socialism in the 1930s and was a classless society. The regime claimed, "We have not yet, of course, complete communism, but we have already achieved socialism—that is, the lowest stage of communism"1

'Political capitalism' and corruption in Russia

By Boris Kagarlitsky

Boris Kagarlitsky is a contributing editor of Links. His books include Square Wheels: How Russian Democracy Got Derailed and The Mirage of Modernisation.

The Western press discovered corruption in Russia in the late 1990s. At this time, the Western reader was deluged with reports describing not just the crimes of the "Russian mafia"—whose origins were invariably traced back to the old political police, the KGB—but also bribe-taking, embezzlement and illegal transfers of funds abroad by top-ranking bureaucrats. The high point of the criticism was a scandal, which the press termed "Russia-gate", concerning Russian accounts in the Bank of New York. The family and close associates of President Boris Yeltsin were linked to the illegal transfer of funds to the West. Later, former Kremlin chief of staff Pavel Borodin was even arrested in the US on charges brought against him in Switzerland during the heat of Russia-gate. The Russian prosecutor's office, however, was clearly reluctant to collaborate with its Swiss and US counterparts, and the affair began to dissipate.

What remains of Soviet culture?

By Boris Kagarlitsky

A decade after the official dissolution of the Soviet Union, the question of the Soviet heritage remains the topic of heated discussions in Russia and other post-Communist countries. Some people explain all the problems and disagreements as survivals from the Soviet past, and dream of a time when the collective memory will be wiped clean of the last traces of the Soviet experience. Others carefully cherish Soviet traditions, saving whatever can still be saved and preserving it. Among sections of radical youth there is a half myth, half fairy tale about life in the USSR, a version that mixes the truth with the idealised recollections of grandfathers and grandmothers who take their grandchildren to Communist demonstrations. As the grandchildren grow up, they do not become admirers of Stalin, but feel a robust loathing for the people who destroyed the country and impoverished its people. Even without the grandparents, they would have thought exactly the same, since their own experience of life proves to the younger generation, on a daily basis, that present-day Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan are societies that are not so much creating the conditions for future development, as squandering and destroying the inheritance from Soviet times. The most important questions remain at a certain distance from all these disputes: What was it that made Soviet culture unique and attractive? What is its place in history, and what did it leave behind?

The Bolshevik Party and 'Zinovievism': Comments on a caricature of Leninism

By Doug Lorimer

The disintegration of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union opened an important debate within the Marxist movement about how to evaluate the history of the socialist movement, and especially of the Bolshevik Party, the party that led the world's first successful socialist revolution. One of the central aims of Links has been to provide a forum for such debate.

It is obviously important to carry out this evaluation in a way that does not make the mistake of confusing Stalinism with the theory and practice of the Bolsheviks when Lenin was the foremost leader of that party. Moreover—as was only to be expected—there are different views of what constituted the theory and practice of Bolshevism. Some of these differences have revolved around the role of Grigory Zinoviev.

Increasing domestic criticism of Beijing's procapitalist course

By Eva Cheng

Eva Cheng was a longtime staff writer for Green Left Weekly. This article is an introduction to the document that follows.

Over the past decade, as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been escalating its pro-capitalist agenda, a pro-capitalist current among China's economists—known as the neoliberals—has consolidated its domination of China's media and publications, giving these economists a strategic position from which to shape public opinion. An opposing, anti-capitalist current—often called the "new left"—and its occasional sympathisers in the centrist camp have been struggling to have their voices heard. Via the internet they have broken down some barriers, but not completely. An intermittent tussle between these opposing views has been going on.

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