Links 28: Editor's introduction

Lessons of Russia's revolution Earlier this year, socialists marked the 100th anniversary of the first Russian revolution. For revolutionaries at the beginning of 1905, the historical "model" of previous proletarian revolution—from which to draw both positive and negative lessons—was the Paris Commune of 1871. The 1905 revolution greatly enriched Marxism's storehouse of revolutionary theory. As Doug Lorimer notes in the opening article of this issue, the 1905 revolution was the first to occur in a new phase of the capitalist epoch, that of imperialism. Moreover, because Lenin and the Bolsheviks studied the 1905 events so intensely, seeking to draw out all the lessons for their own future practice, there is an important continuity between the revolutions of 1905 and 1917. For that reason, "The 1905 revolution and its lessons" is also a contribution to the ongoing discussion of the Bolshevik revolution. In this issue we also print two contributions from Cuban Marxists concerning the degeneration and eventual collapse of the Soviet revolution. In "The thwarted transition", Ariel Dacal Diaz sets out "some notes" towards addressing the questions: "who held power in the Soviet Union, what was their ideology, at what point can we speak of a rupture with the Bolshevik project?". Dacal Diaz outlines the objective factors that made bureaucratisation possible, and how the bureaucracy then went on to reinforce the conditions for its own rule. "Soviet socialism after Lenin", he writes, "… was never a valid, articulate or viable alternative in the face of the previous system. The necessary cultural replacement was not reached—understanding that socialism is, above all else, sustained by a new culture." The role of culture and the subjective factor is then addressed in detail by Armando Hart in his article "Joseph Stalin". Hart describes Stalin as too limited to understand and absorb the broader European culture that formed the basis of Marx and Engels' analysis and political vision. This is what suited him to represent the bureaucracy's program of conservative self-interest. Unlike Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolutionaries, he writes, "neither Stalin nor his successors could understand the forms and possibilities that they could have achieved with an alliance between the societies of the Third World and socialism because, for this, it was necessary to have a universal concept of the fundamental bases of culture, which they lacked". Aleksandr Buzgalin and Andrey Kolganov provide an intriguing report and analysis on the reawakening of anti-government protests that erupted in Russia in early 2005, noting the considerable current interest in the 1905 events. They conclude, "For long years our authorities were under illusions about the long-suffering nature of Russian citizens, and to this day they continue to put their hopes in this patience, testing the people's endurance … If the people are denied all other possibilities for defending their interests except direct resistance to the authorities, such resistance will sooner or later become a reality—and no longer just on a local scale, or in response to local causes." The recent defeat of referendums on the European constitution in France and the Netherlands has refocused attention on the meaning and prospects of the EU. Winfried Wolf, writing before the votes, points out that citizens' support has never been a prerequisite for the European project, which has always aimed at "a Europe of corporations and banks". He goes on to stress the central role of militarism and war in the effort to create a united capitalist Europe. In a concise but wideranging article, Roberto Jorquera reports from Venezuela on the developments in the aftermath of the inspiring May Day demonstration in Caracas. Of particular interest are the growing discussion of and support for socialism within the Bolivarian revolution, and the increasing collaboration between the governments of Venezuela and Cuba. One of the propaganda justifications for the imposition of neo-liberal austerity policies in Latin America and elsewhere in the Third World is the supposed "success" of a neo-liberal program under the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. In "Model for the Third World?", Renfrey Clarke demonstrates that the notion of neo-liberal success in Chile is a myth, producing less growth than alternative bourgeois policies that themselves were incapable of overcoming underdevelopment. "No social class that inflicts such developmental atrocities on the nation of which it is nominally part can claim to embody or defend popular interests", Clarke concludes. "If the economic betterment of the masses of Latin Americans is to be served, this will require taking political power away from the elites and those who act on their behalf." The issue concludes with the third in Jonathan Strauss' series of articles on the theory of the labour aristocracy. In this instalment, Strauss discusses the relationship between the labour aristocracy and the labour bureaucracy and its meaning for working-class politics.