On Russia

Jaquer0 jaquer0 at yahoo.es
Fri Dec 14 15:17:32 MST 2001

At 05:34 PM 12/13/01, you wrote:
>I don't know if I fully agree with your last statement, although that would
>need some study. I believe that Russia retains a large state-sector to this
>day (albeit of very low productivity). It retains a nuclear capacity to blow
>the world up (how many times?). Certainly, the gains have taken a battering
>but we haven't seen the full-scale reversal so many had forecast in the
>early 90s.

A "large state sector" is hardly equivalent to socialism, even 
bureaucratically fucked up socialism.

As to nuclear capacity, I think in the bright communist future of humanity 
that's quite likely the very FIRST thing we'll get rid of. The capacity to 
sterilize the entire biosphere an arbitrary number of times is hardly a 
necessary requirement for the withering away of commodity production, 
although I often think we humans probably overestimate our capacity for 
destruction (and much else). We're just quite comical monkeys just down 
from the tress an eyeblink ago and we think we're masters of the universe. 
I suspect the universe, if it could speak, would tell quite a different tale.

We haven't seen a "full scale reversal" of what the Soviet Union was by 
1991 because by then, the "reversal" had largely been carried out.

It is true that in the field of the class struggle, consciousness, ideas 
and ideologies have not been important.

But the socialist revolution changes that.

With the ascendancy of the working class, "ideas" become a material force. 
This is the (negative) lesson of the (late) USSR and the positive lesson of 
Cuba. That is why "building socialism is the task of free men and women" 
(Fidel). It is a conscious task, which most of all requires an 
understanding of who and what you are, where you fit in the evolutionary 
road from a clever monkey to building human habitats on Altair 6. Where we 
fit in --all of us in the last 100 years or so-- is as part of the historic 
movement of socialist revolution in the epoch of imperialist decay.

The collapse of East European and Soviet "really existing" socialism was so 
ignominious precisely because it was the end result of a long and 
heartbreaking evolution, which saw the class consciousness of the 
once-mighty Soviet working class reduced to such a level that when the 
Soviet bureaucracy felt free to leave the Sandinista revolution twisting 
slowly in the wind, to serve as carrion for the imperialist vultures, no 
one protested: not Gorby, not Yeltsin, not the dissidents, not even the 
"Trots" of the Mandelista USec or wannabe ex-Trots of the Barnesites.

When Vietnam struggled under the imperialist onslaught in the late 60's, 
Che spoke for millions --not just in Cuba, not just in the Third World-- 
when in his message to the Tricontinental, he said that imperialism was 
guilty of monstrous crimes, but those that refused to make of North Vietnam 
an inviolable part of the socialist camp were ALSO guilty. But who was 
there in the 80's, when the peoples of Central America bore the full brunt 
of imperialist wrath, and point a finger to Moscow and Peking and say, 

Fidel? Cuba? They were not in a position to say such things openly, freely 
and directly even in the 60's. So that he could give voice to Cuba's 
unvarnished message, Che renounced not just his rank of Comandante, his 
position as minister, but even his status as a Cuban citizen (earned, under 
Cuban tradition dating back to the Indepence Wars against Spain, by earning 
a rank equivalent to Major in  the revolutionary forces). Nothing legal 
ties me to Cuba, he said, only ties of another kind that cannot be 
dissolved as easily as appointments.

What ties were those? The ties of history, of objective reality, that bind 
us into a common movement, the workers movement and its most conscious 
expression, the communist movement.

The Soviet "socialism" (or, if you prefer, "workers state") that collapsed 
10 years ago, with Gorby signing over the "personería jurídica" (I guess 
legal identity might be a good translation) of Lenin's homeland to Yeltsin 
with a pen he borrowed from CNN President Tom Johnson, THAT Soviet 
socialism could collapse so completely and readily because it was a hollow, 
empty shell. It had been hollowed out by many decades of what comrades who 
come from a certain tradition call "revisionism" and in the tradition I 
come from is called betrayal.

Gorby, for all his popularity with liberals and even many communists in the 
West, was a runt compared to Nikita, and to the extent Nikita was different 
from Gorby at all, it is because the embers of October --renewed, albeit in 
a distorted way, in the Great Patriotic War and the "Cold War" struggle 
against American imperialist encirclement-- still smoldered in the hearts 
of the Soviet working people.

This was shown by the tremendous ethusiasm a *genuine* communist leader 
--Fidel-- evoked among the Soviet masses, and was even reflected in 
Nikita's pronouncements, like his famous quip to red-baiting American 
reporters at the UN in 1959 or 1960 that he didn't know whether Fidel was a 
Communist, all he knew was that he (Nikita) was a Fidelista.

Could you imagine Brezhnev or Gorby or that guy who was Pope, I mean 
general secretary, for a few months in between, finding political advantage 
to saying such a thing in the early or mid-80s about the Sandinistas, or 
even Fidel? Or the dull, gray bureaucrats who tried to "save" the USSR by 
staging a Marxist --a Groucho Marxist-- coup against Gorby and thereby set 
the stage for the denoument of this historic debacle, the triumph of the 
most abjectly wannabe-capitalist, restorationist wing of the bureaucracy, 
symbolized by Yeltsin?

Quantity changes into quality. December 25, 1991, a day that WILL live in 
infamy, when the red banner of the hammer and sickle was lowered for the 
last time from above the Kremlin, marks the point where the accumulation of 
counterrevolutionary, anti-socialist, anti-working-class, anti-Soviet 
policies and actions by the bureaucratic rulers in the Kremlin, and most of 
all the toll they took on the consciousness, the organization, the pride 
and revolutionary spirit of the Soviet toilers, became qualitatively 
transformed into a bourgeois counterrevolution. There is no need for 
guessing games or fudging, on the gravestone of the USSR is inscribed: Nov. 
7, 1917 - Dec. 25, 1991.

The transformations in the last decade have only confirmed that this is, 
indeed, what happened. Tens of millions of former Soviet citizens have paid 
with their lives. Go look at Russian vital statistics, the plummeting life 
expectancy, the declining population. It's not a question of percentage of 
the economy that is "nationalized", or millions of euros, dollars or rubles 
spent on health or welfare. It is a question of the lives of human beings, 
of working people, of millions and tens of millions of people, who have 
been snuffed out by the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union just 
as surely as if they had been herded into gas ovens or made to stand below 
B-52 bombers as they gave their blessing to Afghan cities and countryside.

That is --I've said it before, under a different name-- history's way of 
telling the Soviet working class, next time you conquer power, be a little 
bit more careful of how you use it, and how you allow those who act 
in  your name to use it.


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