Red and Green

Scott Marshall Scott at
Sat Feb 4 10:53:44 MST 1995

To: Louis Proyect:

I very much appreciate the tone of this message as opposed to the last and
will try to respond in kind. BTW I was taken a bit by surprise by the first
post because in general, though not long on this list I have found Louis'
posts to be interesting and helpful.

To the matters at hand.

>That is not the gist of my post. I take issue with the CP's failure to
>come to terms with Chernobyl, factory dumping of toxic wastes and wholesale
>descruction of old-growth timber throughout the former Soviet Union.
>There are Green Party members now in Russia who are fighting to rectify
>environmental injustices that are part of the legacy of 70 years of
>bureaucratic socialism. Neither Yeltsin nor the reconstituted Communist
>Party seem to have the wisdom to deal with these matters in the necessary

I'm really not sure what you mean here by "to come to terms". In the
pamphlet I mentioned we do discuss some of these problems that developed
under then existing socialism. And we have taken issue with many of the
Soviet practices - both then and now. We also have never taken as gospel
what US imperialism says or said about the problems.

Just a personal observation: I was in the SU in 1971 in Siberia and visited
one of the biggest lumber and forestry operations in the world not too far
from Ircutz (SP?). There was lively discussion about old timber and ideas on
how to preserve it. Remember this is '71 when only a tiny part of the US
left was paying any attention to ecology. And it wasn't just discussion.
They had a huge wall-wide map of the entire Siberian timber lands sectored
and classified to illustrate their planning for preserving old timber and
for harvesting a steady supply of lumber while reforesting and replanting
for the future. They said their plan would result in reclaiming more timber

Granted I'm no expert and it may have been inadequate - I really don't know.
But I do know they were working on these questions and I saw genuine
interest in the issues involved. Again at a time when the green movement
here was small and when the wholesale, almost unchecked rape of the great NW
by the paper and lumber monopolies was going almost uncontestedly full steam

BTW at the last congress of the CPRF, just held in Moscow two weeks ago I
understand that there were representative of the greens invited and who did
participate as guests. I also understand from a comrade who attended the
congress that there are green activists in the CPRF.

>CP'ers hold up the former Soviet Union as a model for the kind of
>socialism they support.

This is far too sweeping. I joined the party in 1969 with many strong
anti-Soviet ideas. Now I think there was much right about socialism as it
existed, though I also think we can learn a lot for the future by rational
discussion of the mistakes they made. And they were many and severe.

I must add that as long as I have been in the party, one of our main
quarrels with the Soviets was over the question of "model". Socialism will
be built in every country based on the traditions, experiences and features
of that particular country. Ours is far different from Russia's. This was a
basic idea I first learned in my first party school.

The environmental record of Stalin, Krushschev
>and Brezhnev's dictatorships is terrible. This is a contradiction you
>have to straighten out, not me.

I feel no need to straighten this out. I am prepared to study and learn from
the specifics of their policies good or bad. I am not prepared to be so

>My problem is
>with the altar you have constructed around the Soviet Union.

Again too sweeping. Have we been enthusiastic about socialism as it existed,
yes I think we have been and at times too one-sidedly. Did we defend
existing socialism - yes and with no apologies. But that is far from the
altar. There are many many factors that enter into a real discussion of this
issue. Including the role of US imperialism. The role of the witch hunts and
anti-communism and anti-sovietism in shaping the struggles of the US working
class and many others including the history of Soviet anti-fascism,
anti-colonialism and anti-imperailism.

>For leftists in the United States to defend the policies
>of whatever dictatorship momentarily occupies the Kremlin reminds me of
>the ghost in the Christmas Carol condemned to carry the chains of past
>sins. The CP was never required to carry those chains.

Put this way I agree. So don't ask us to carry them by putting up
caricatures of our policies and then knocking them down. I don't mean this
in a sharp or unfriendly way - but it is the way I feel about many of these
types of arguments.

Scott Marshall


More information about the Marxism mailing list