Will the Help Come?

Jorn Andersen ccc6639 at vip.cybercity.dk
Fri Jun 7 03:09:13 MDT 1996

Vladimir Bilenkin wrote:

> From the beginning, the problem of the nature of SU was as inseparable
> from that of its defence as theory from practice can be for communists.
> There have been only three choices:
> 1. To accept Trotsky's position and to wage international struggle both
> against the imperialist threat from the ouside and Stalinist
> bureaucracy from the inside.
> 2. To renege, as Burnham did.
> 3. To eliminate the problem "theoretically," as Cliff did.
> Objectively, the third option has been instrumental in the
> international isolation of the Soviet working class and therefore in
> the weakening of proletarian internationalism everywhere.

No, Vladimir, you are wrong here. The third option has been
instrumental in fighting the illusions that the stalinist
*rulers* had anything to do with socialism and at the same time
in stressing solidarity with the Soviet working class. And thus
in strengthening *proletarian* internationalism everywhere.

> The theoretical falsity of Cliff's theory has been proven by the real
> capitalist restoration in SU.  To continue holding to it in the face of
> this is to betray hundreds of millions of socialist workers who today
> face the final all-out attack on them by the combined forces of
> international capital and their own bureaucratic-bourgeois cliques.

On the contrary, I think the theoretical *validity* of Cliff's
theory has not only been proven by real events - it also offers
a framework for understanding and explanation. An explanation
which points to the *similarities* in the situation facing
workers in Russia and workers in the rest of the world - and
not only to *special conditions* in Russia.

This is not the place to repeat what Cliff's theory actually
says (By the way, have you read it?) - but rather what the
consequences are.

Firstly, his theory explains why the USSR was dynamic in the
boom years. It was dynamic in the same sense as other capitalisms
have been - not because bureaucratic planning in itself is

Secondly, it explains why the state capitalist economy inevitably
had to enter a crisis caused by falling rates of profit *on a world
scale*. The crisis didn't come from the outside alone and it didn't
come from the inside alone. It came because Russia was and is part
of a capitalist world system, which inevitably enters such crises
- this time deeper than ever.

(The more specific feature about Russia is that the bureaucratic
structure made it more vulnerable and that the political consequences
of the crisis were felt more immediately. When the ruling class *is*
the state, then infighting in this class shakes the structures of the
state much faster than elsewhere, and adapting to changing conditions
is harder. This point should not be exaggerated however: Also in the
West our rulers have a hard time.)

By pointing to the *common roots* of the crisis East and West
Cliff's theory does *not* betray these millions of workers
facing attacks. When our rulers in the West attack the welfare
state and try to adapt to changing circumstances, they are doing
exactly the same as the rulers in Russia.

In the West this leads workers to wish back to the heydays of the
welfare state and try out various strands of reformism (e.g. the
recent elections in Italy). Of course the same goes for Russia.
This is basically why Shuganov can get a mass vote. It is wishful
thinking with no roots in capitalist reality.

Cliff's theory not only points to the same roots of the crisis - it
also points to the same *solution* of this crisis: Workers' revolution.
This is the opposite of betrayal - it is pointing to the only realistic
way out for workers East and West.

> These workers are now witnessing the devastation that their Soviet
> comrades suffer in their defeat.  They know that the same lies in store
> for them too should they fail to defend their factories and their
> land.  They need all help from the outside they can get.  They have
> right to expect this help first and foremost from the adherents of the
> Communist Manifesto. Will it come?

Certainly more likely from those who has rejected any illusions
in the former stalinist regimes than those who have not. After
all it *is* in the main the same rulers who made the attacks
in the past and now try to continue even harsher. East and West.


Jorn Andersen


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