Russia

Syria: War threat, the US-Russia deal and some left delusions

Click HERE for more on Syria.

By Michael Karadjis

September 25, 2013 -- Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- For two and a half years, the Bashar Assad regime has waged a barbaric war against the Syrian populace, using long-range missiles, fighter aircraft, helicopter gunships, tanks, artillery, cluster bombs and almost certainly chemical weapons, not to forget everyday machine gunning and torture, in a bid to crush the heroic uprising of Syria’s “wretched of the earth”, the peasants and urban poor, against his gangster-capitalist regime.

(Updated Sept. 24) Syria: West's hypocritical war drive slowed

By Barry Sheppard

September 15, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- The proposal by Russia, accepted by the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, for Syria’s chemical weapons to be turned over to an international authority (presumably the United Nations) for destruction, has temporarily put off Washington’s plans for war against Syria.

US President Barack Obama has postponed asking US Congress to approve of his plans to attack Syria. This represents a political defeat for the war drive.

Even if Washington scuttles the proposed agreement and goes ahead with war, it will do so with even less support at home and abroad than it had before the Russian proposal.

The main force blocking the proposed attack has been the opposition of the world's people especially in the United States.

In spite of huge pressure, in the face of mass opposition of their own citizens, few countries have backed bombing Syria. Only one country has fully said it would take part militarily ― Saudi Arabia, a well-known bastion of liberal democracy and human rights.

John Riddell: Five precedents for understanding Egypt’s July coup

General L.G. Kornilov, Moscow, August 1917.

By John Riddell

September 15, 2013 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Two months after Egypt’s generals ousted its elected Muslim Brotherhood government, there is still a wide spectrum of views among socialists regarding the meaning of this event (see “Socialists need to rethink the military takeover”).

This discussion can be deepened by considering a few precedents from socialist history – some well known, others obscure.

1. 1917: The Kornilov coup

Michael Lebowitz: Some explanations of the fall of ‘real socialism’

By Michael Lebowitz

September 13, 2013 -- The Bullet, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission. This essay is from a talk given to the Centre for Political Emancipation in Belgrade, Serbia, on May 6, 2013. It can also be seen above and on YouTube. -- Why did "real socialism" and, in particular the Soviet Union, fall? Let me note a few explanations that have been offered. With respect to the Soviet Union, one very interesting explanation that has been suggested is that it's all the fault of Mikhail Gorbachev. And not simply the errors of Gorbachev but the treachery. Those who offer this explanation rely in particular upon a document which is sometimes described as his confession. This document begins as follows:

Russia: Moscow workers confront bosses over Metro safety

By activists of the Zashchita union, Moscow, translated by Renfrey Clarke

July 21, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Metrovagonmash factory has begun producing large numbers of railway wagons with defective braking systems. In June, after three serious incidents on the Moscow Metro, the factory was fined 6 million rubles. The trade union Zashchita (“Defence”) has brought a suit in the prosecutor’s office, anticipates the laying of criminal charges against the factory directors, and is beginning a protest campaign.

The factory management and the workshop chiefs are forcing workers to fit defective components despite breaches of technical standards and serious faults in the parts involved. Plant employees are concerned for the reputation of its products and for the safety of Metro passengers. But workers who refuse to install the parts, demanding that quality standards for the factory’s products be adhered to and normal working conditions observed, are being subjected to reprisals and threatened with the sack by Metrovagonmash chiefs.

El estado de la izquierda y los movimientos sociales en Rusia

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3280.]

Por Boris Kagarlitsky

21/04/2013 -- Sinpermiso -- En Rusia, las dos primeras semanas de enero suelen ser una época en la que nada ocurre. Los integrantes de los estratos más adinerados, los burócratas, los políticos y la burguesía abandonan el país con el fin de pasar sus vacaciones en el extranjero, distribuyéndose por los diversos lugares vacacionales según sus medios, gustos y vanidad. Sus destinos abarcan desde hoteles relativamente baratos en Egipto hasta estaciones de esquí en Francia, Austria o Suiza.

Aquellos que no pueden permitirse tales lujos simplemente beben y liberan su estrés ante el televisor, en sus dachas en el campo o en la sauna.

Russia: An oligarch’s mistake, an oligarch’s fate

Boris Abramovich Berezovsky diedin London on March 23, 2013.

By Boris Kagarlitsky, translated by Renfrey Clarke

March 31, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- After everyone had finished their coffee, and reached demonstratively for their brief cases, he overrode the feeble impulses of his companions and placed a 50 pound banknote on the table. The change arrived in the form of a mountain of coins – what a disgrace that in Britain 1 pound notes have been taken out of circulation, forcing people to weigh their pockets down with metal! There were a lot of coins, of all denominations. But he sorted them out in a few moments, counted out a 15 per cent tip, raked the rest into his pocket, said his goodbyes and vanished.

“Mathematician”, I thought.

Boris Kagarlitsky on the current state of the left and social movements in Russia

Anti-Putin protest in Moscow.

[For more by Boris Kagarlitsky, click HERE.]

By Boris Kagarlitsky, translated by Renfrey Clarke

March 30, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In Russia, the first two weeks of January are a time when nothing happens. Members of the well-heeled layers, bureaucrats, politicians and the bourgeoisie, set off to spend their holidays abroad, distributing themselves around various locations on the basis of their means, tastes and vanity. Their destinations might range from comparatively cheap hotels in Egypt to ski resorts in France, Austria or Switzerland.

People who cannot afford such things simply drink, and shed their stress in front of the television, at their dachas in the countryside, or in the sauna.

From Bangui to BRICS: If you carve Africa, Africa may carve you too

South African troops in the Central African Republic.

[See also "South Africa: brics-from-below!" For more on BRICS click HERE. For more articles by Patrick Bond, click HERE.]

By Patrick Bond and Khadija Sharife, Durban

March 27, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The reach of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) leaders far into the African continent was palpable this week, not just here in Durban where they are gathering to plan investments and infrastructure, but everywhere up-continent where extraction does extreme damage.

BRICS: ‘Anti-imperialist’ or ‘sub-imperialist’?

South African President Jacob Zuma and friend.

[See also "South Africa: brics-from-below!" For more on BRICS click HERE. For more articles by Patrick Bond, click HERE.]

By Patrick Bond

March 20, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- “We reaffirm the character of the ANC as a disciplined force of the left, a multi-class mass movement and an internationalist movement with an anti-imperialist outlook” -- so said Jacob Zuma, orating to his masses at the year’s largest African National Congress celebration, in Durban on January 12, 2013.[1]

South Africa: brics-from-below! Civil society gathering during the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa summit

Whose turn to carve?

March 18, 2013 -- In Durban, South Africa, five heads of state meet on March 26-27, 2013, to assure the rest of Africa that their countries’ corporations are better investors in infrastructure, mining, oil and agriculture than the traditional European and US multinationals. The Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) summit will also include 16 heads of state from Africa, including some notorious tyrants. A new $50 billion bank will probably be launched.

How workers rallied to aid the early Soviet republic: International Workers’ Aid for Soviet Russia (+ study guide)

Munzenberg

Willi Münzenberg.

December 29, 2012 -- The following talk on work by the Communist International to gather material aid for the Soviet Republic was given by Suzanne Weiss at the fourth Toronto study session on Toward the United Front, a 1300-page edition the fourth Communist International Congress (1922).

The study session, entitled “The Comintern’s Struggle for Social Hegemony”, surveyed the Comintern's work in unions, cooperatives, education, youth organisations and on material assistance to Soviet Russia. The presentation, taking up a speech by Willi Münzenberg, is followed by a brief biography and a description of the study session. More information on Toward the United Front is available HERE. – John Riddell

This article first appeared at Johnriddell.wordpress.com and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

BRICS bloc’s rising ‘sub-imperialism’: the latest threat to people and planet?

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chinese President Hu Jintao and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa pose prior to the BRICS summit in New Delhi on March 29, 2012.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

November 22, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The heads of state of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) network of governments are coming to Durban, South Africa,  in four months, meeting on March 26-27 at the International Convention Centre (ICC), Africa’s largest venue. Given their recent performance, it is reasonable to expect another “1%” summit, wreaking socioeconomic and ecological havoc. And that means it is time for the first BRICS countersummit, to critique top-down “sub-imperialist” bloc formation, and to offer bottom-up alternatives.

After all, we have had some bad experiences at the Durban ICC.

Aleksandr Buzgalin: In memory of Nina Ivanovna Buzgalina, a true communist

Nina Ivanovna Buzgalina, 1932-2012

Translation and introductory note by Renfrey Clarke

November 18, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Many members of the international left who have lived in Moscow or visited it during the past few decades will be saddened to learn that Nina Ivanovna Buzgalina, mother of Aleksandr Buzgalin, died on November 9, 2012. Aleksandr has now written this tribute to her.

Nina Ivanovna was a proletarian fighter from her teenage years, and a committed, insightful communist. Her remarkable history stands as a testament to the struggles, sacrifices and triumphs of her generation.

* * *

By Aleksandr Buzgalin, Moscow

People don’t write about their mothers in scholarly journals, or post about them on public e-lists. But I’m doing so. I’m doing this because someone has died whose life reflected the best elements in the world of true communists, just as the ocean is reflected in a drop of water.

Russia since the elections: the calm before the storm?

More than 15,000 protesters marched from Pushkin Square to the Chistye Prudy metro station in Moscow on May 13, in support Occupy Abay. Photograph: Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images.

By Aleksandr Buzgalin in Moscow, translated by Renfrey Clarke

May 30, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In Russia, the winter of 2011-2012 was unusually stormy in the political sense. The results of both the parliamentary and presidential elections were clearly worked out in advance, and everything went as foreseen. Both the United Russia party and President Vladimir Putin were confirmed in power. But the meetings and demonstrations of many tens of thousands of people that took place regularly in Moscow and elsewhere over months placed this order and simplicity in doubt.

Aleksandr Buzgalin on Russia’s 'Jurassic capitalism'


Buzgalin: bureaucrats and oligarchs rule a caricature of Western capitalism, amassing fabulous wealth.

May 6-7, 2012 -- Real News Network -- Aleksandr Buzgalin, professor of political economy at Moscow State University, editor of the independent democratic left magazine Alternatives, contributor to Links Interantional Journal of Socialist Renewal and coordinator of the Russian social movement Alternatives, spoke to the Real News Network about the nature of the regime of Vladimir Putin and the Russian state and economy today.

Full transcripts are available HERE.

Russia: Why Putin won the presidential election


On March 6, 2012, the Real News Network interviewed Aleksandr Buzgalin, who explained that
Putin promised social democratic reforms but will more likely continue neoliberal policies.

By Aleksandr Buzgalin, translated by Renfrey Clarke

March 8, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The winter of 2011-2012 saw the rise of a new – and powerful – wave of political activism in Russia, a development which understandably has drawn the attention of most Russians, and of wide circles abroad, to the country’s political processes. What has happened?

Formally at least, the results of the elections are well known. Vladimir Putin received 63.6 per cent of the votes, and became president of the Russian Federation.

His losing rivals achieved the following results:

Russia: The people are not silent, but what comes next?

Massive rally in Moscow in support of honest elections, February 4, 2012.

By Aleksandr Buzgalin and Andrey Kolganov, translated by Renfrey Clarke

February 16, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This article was written gradually, as events in Russia unfolded. The first version appeared after the first demonstrations in Moscow in December, on Bolotnaya Square and Sakharov Prospekt. The latest variant is taking shape in the hours following the rallies that took place throughout the Russian capital (and not only there) on February 4.

According to early reports, the united opposition assembled a minimum of 40,000 people and perhaps as many as 120,000 (the estimate of the organisers, and far more realistic). Another demonstration called by the marginal right-wing liberal figures Novodvorskaya and Borovoy attracted barely a hundred supporters. As usual, the right-wing nationalist Zhirinovsky brought out his obedient followers to the number of perhaps a thousand people. Far more serious was the rally by opponents of the opposition actions, the so-called anti-orange rally on Poklonnaya Hill. There, as at the opposition demonstration, somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 people took part.

The collapse of 'communism' in the USSR: Its causes and significance

By Doug Lorimer

Doug Lorimer is a member of the National Executive of the DSP. This article is based on a report adopted by the 14th National Conference of the DSP, held in Sydney, January 2-6, 1992.

©Resistance Books 1997; first published 1992, second (revised) edition 1997

Contents

Stalinism in the Soviet Union

Boris Kagarlitsky on the Russian left; Lull before the storm

January 10, 2012 -- Real News Network -- As the Russian protests rocked the plans of President Putin, who, as Boris Kargalitsky wrote, wanted the elections to legitimise decisions that had already been made, these protests, as he said, essentially were led by segments that were more or less neoliberal or nationalist, but not much by what I guess Boris would call the left. And why is that? So now joining us to talk about the state of the left in Russia is Boris Kagarlitsky. He's a sociologist. He was a deputy to the Moscow city soviet between 1990 and '93. And he's currently the director of the Institute of Globalisation and Social Movements in Moscow. 

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