The proletariat faced with the collapse of the Eastern bloc and the bankruptcy of Stalinism

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Ten years ago exactly, there took place one of the most important events of the second half of the 20th century: the collapse of the Eastern imperialist bloc and of Europe’s Stalinist regimes, including the largest of them, the USSR itself.

The event was used by the ruling class to unleash one of the most massive and pernicious campaigns ever directed against the working class. By dishonestly identifying disintegrating Stalinism with communism, by pretending that the bankruptcy and barbarity of the Stalinist regimes was an inevitable consequence of the proletarian revolution, the bourgeoisie aimed to turn the working class away from any revolutionary perspective, and to deal a decisive blow to the working class struggle. The document reprinted below was published as a supplement to our territorial press in January 1990, fundamentally with a view to fighting the bourgeoisie’s campaign of lies, whose effects can still be felt today.

When this text was written, the chaos overtaking the USSR and the Stalinist regimes was still far from being what it is today. In particular, the USSR was still formally in existence, led by the Communist Party of Mikhail Gorbachev, who had been trying since 1985 to recover the situation through his policy of "perestroika" (restructuring). However, from the summer of 1989 the situation accelerated, notably with the formation of the Solidarnosc-led government in Poland at the end of August, the increasing defiance of Soviet authority by the various governments of Central Europe (eg Hungary), as well as the rise of nationalism in the republics of the USSR itself. Our organisation analysed the significance and the implications of these events in International Review no.59:

"The convulsions shaking Poland today, though they may take on an extreme form in this country, are by no means specific to it. All the countries under Stalinist regimes are in the same dead-end. Their economies have been particularly brutally hit by the world capitalist crisis, not only because of their backwardness, but because they are totally incapable of adapting to an exacerbation of inter-capitalist competition. The attempts to improve their competitiveness by introducing some of the ‘classical’ norms of capitalist management have only succeeded in provoking a still greater shambles, as can be seen from the utter failure of ‘perestroika’ in the USSR (…)What is in store for the Stalinist regimes is thus not a ‘peaceful democratisation’, still less an economic ‘recovery’. With the deepening of the world-wide capitalist crisis, these countries have entered a period of convulsions to an extent unheard-of in a past which is nonetheless rich in violent upheavals" ("Capitalist convulsions and workers’ struggles").

One week later (5th October), a text adopted by the ICC’s central organ was put up for discussion throughout the organisation, trying to analyse the situation in greater depth and to determine its perspectives:

"Already, the Eastern bloc is in a state of growing dislocation (…) In this zone, the centrifugal tendencies are so strong that they go out of control as soon as they have the opportunity (…) We find a similar phenomenon in the peripheral republics of the USSR (…) The [dynamic of the ] nationalist movements which today are profiting from a loosening of central control by the Russian party (…) is towards separation from Russia.

In the end, if the central power in Moscow does not react, then we will see the explosion, not just of the Russian bloc, but of its dominant power. The Russian bourgeoisie, which today rules the world’s second power, would find itself at the head of a second-rate power, a good deal weaker than Germany for example (…)

But however the situation in the Eastern bloc evolves, the events that are shaking it today mean the historic crisis, the definitive collapse of Stalinism, this monstrous symbol of the most terrible counter-revolution the proletariat has ever known. The greatest lie in history is being stripped bare today.

In these countries, an unprecedented period of instability, convulsions, and chaos has begun, whose implications go far beyond their frontiers. In particular the weakening, which will continue, of the Russian bloc, opens the gates to a destabilisation of the whole system of international relations and imperialist constellations which emerged from World War II with the Yalta Agreements" ("Theses on the economic and political crisis in the USSR and the Eastern countries", in International Review no.60).

One month later, 9th November 1989 saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, which had symbolised the world’s division between Western and Eastern blocs. It signed the latter’s death sentence, and completely overturned the world order that had emerged from Yalta, thereby implying the eventual disappearance of the Western bloc itself:

"The disintegration of the Eastern bloc, its disappearance as a major consideration in inter-imperialist conflict, implies a radical calling into question of the Yalta Agreements, and the spread of instability to all the imperialist constellations formed on that basis, including the Western bloc which the USA has dominated for the last 40 years. The latter will in turn see its foundations being called into question. During the 1980s, the cohesion of the Western countries against the Russian bloc was an important factor in the latter’s collapse; today, the cement for that cohesion no longer exists. Although it is impossible to foresee exactly the rhythm and forms that this will take, the perspective today is one of growing tension between the great powers of the Western bloc…" ("Collapse of the Eastern bloc, the definitive bankruptcy of Stalinism", in International Review no.60, 19/11/1989).

At the same time, an impressive chain reaction swept away regimes which had governed the countries of the Soviet glacis for four decades:

  • on 10th November, Todor Jivkov was sacked after governing Bulgaria since 1954;

  • 3rd December saw the scuppering of the East German Communist Party;

  • on 22nd December, the Ceaucescu regime in Romania was overthrown;in Romania was overthrown;

  • on 29th December, the long-standing dissident Vaclav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia.

This situation was the basis for the text we are publishing below. But Stalinism’s disintegration did not end there. The USSR’s disappearance was to follow that of its bloc. By early 1990, the Baltic countries declared for independence. Worse still, on 16th July Ukraine, the USSR’s second republic, tied to Russia by centuries of history, declared its sovereignty. It was followed by Belarus, then by all the Caucasian and Central Asian republics.

Gorbachev tried to save what he could by proposing the adoption of a treaty of the Union (planned to be signed on 20th August, 1991), which would maintain a minimum of political unity among the various components of the USSR. On 18th August the Party’s old guard, with the support of a part of the police and military apparatus, tried to oppose this surrender of the USSR. The attempted coup d’Etat was a lamentable failure, and immediately prompted almost all the federated republics to declare their independence. On 21st December, the Community of Independent States was formed, an extremely vague structure which brought together some of the component parts of the USSR. On 25th December, Gorbachev, its last outgoing president, declared its dissolution. The Russian flag replaced the red flag floating over the Kremlin.

As the USSR fell apart, the disappearance of its bloc brought with it, not the "new era of peace and prosperity" predicted by US President Bush, but a series of bloody convulsions, the most important being the Gulf War against Iraq in January 1991, and the wars in Yugoslavia whose latest episode in Kosovo during the spring of 1999 marked a new step in military barbarism at the heart of Europe and only an hour from its main industrial centres.

The upheavals the world has been through since 1989 and the collapse of the Stalinist regimes, the enormous ideological campaigns which have accompanied them (both on the failure of "communism", but also the "humanitarian" campaigns which have accompanied every episode of an ever-increasing barbarism), have all provoked a disorientation within the working class, a retreat both in its consciousness and its self-confidence. This does not call into question the general perspective for the present historic period of increasing class confrontations between bourgeoisie and proletariat, as we show in the report on the class struggle adopted by the ICC’s 13th Congress and published in this issue of the Review. However, if the proletariat is to resume its forward march, it will have to attack the formidable mystifications developed by the ruling class since 1989. It is to contribute to this necessary effort of the class that we are republishing here our document from January 1990.

FM, 15/9/1999

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The proletariat faced with the collapse of the Eastern bloc and the bankruptcy of Stalinism

In a few months, the entire bloc of the capitalist world dominated by Russian imperialism has fallen apart, revealing the irreparable bankruptcy of a system maintained for almost half a century by the bloodiest terror mankind has ever known.

Not only have these events, at the very gates of Western Europe, overturned the entire world order as it emerged from World War II; today, they are the object of a deafening media campaign on the supposed "bankruptcy of communism". Like famished vultures, every fraction of the "liberal" and "democratic" ruling class is tearing at the carrion of Stalinism in order to perpetuate the dirty lie that Stalinism is the same as communism, that the Stalinist dictatorship was contained in the programme of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, and that when it comes down to it Stalinism was nothing but the logical continuation of the proletarian revolution of October 1917. In short, they aim to drive home the idea that such barbarity was the inevitable price that the working class must pay for having dared to defy the capitalist order and to call it into question 70 years ago.

In its last gasps, Stalinism is thus rendering one last service to capitalism. The most powerful, the most machiavellian, the most hypocritical bourgeoisie is profiting from its death-throes. Not a day passes without the hired hacks of the ruling class exploiting to the hilt every convulsion that shakes the Soviet glacis, the better to vaunt the merits of "democracy" and "liberal" capitalism, presented as "the best of all possible worlds". A world of freedom and plenty, the only one worth fighting for, the only one which can appease all the suffering imposed on the population by the "communist" system.

Stalinism’s death is an ideological victory for the Western bourgeoisie. For the moment, the proletariat must roll with the blow. But it must understand that Stalinism has never been anything other than the most caricatured form of capitalist rule. The workers must understand that "democracy" is only the most hypocritical mask for the bourgeoisie’s class dictatorship, and that it would be a tragedy if they let themselves be taken in by its siren song. They must understand that - West or East - capitalism has nothing to offer the exploited masses but growing poverty and barbarism, ending in the destruction of the planet. They must understand that there is no hope for humanity outside the class struggle of the international proletariat, which by overthrowing capitalism will make it possible to build a real world-wide communist society, a society rid of crises, wars, barbarity and oppression in every form.

***

All the deafening propaganda that we are being served today around the theme of democracy’s "victory" over "communist" totalitarianism is no accident. In reality, the bourgeoisie has a very precise aim when it hammers home the lie that Stalinism was the inevitable result of the revolution of October 1917: by disgusting the workers with any idea of communism, a capitalism at bay hopes to turn the proletariat away from the final goal of the last 20 years’ class struggle against capitalism’s incessant attacks against its living standards.

The total opposition between Stalinism and the October Revolution

The ruling class’ claim that Stalinist barbarism is the legitimate heir to the October revolution, that Stalin only took a system worked out by Lenin to its logical conclusion, is a LIE. All the hired hacks, historians, and ideologues know very well that there is no continuity between proletarian October and Stalinism. They all know that this reign of terror was the work of the counter-revolution which established itself on the ruins of the Russian revolution with the defeat of the first revolutionary wave of 1917-23. It was the isolation of the Russian proletariat after the bloody suppression of the revolution in Germany which dealt the final blow to the power of the workers’ Soviets in Russia.

History has tragically confirmed what marxism declared at the very dawn of the workers’ movement: the communist revolution can only be international.

"The communist revolution (…) will not be a purely national revolution; it will take place at the same time in the civilised countries (…) it will have a considerable effect on all other countries of the planet, and will completely transform and accelerate their development. It is a universal revolution; consequently, it will have a universal terrain"(Engels, Principles of communism, 1847).

Lenin, waiting for the aid of the revolution in Europe, was only keeping faith with the principles of communism and proletarian internationalism when he expressed himself in these terms:

"The Russian revolution is only a detachment of the world socialist army, and the success and triumph of the revolution that we have carried out will depend on the action of that army. This is a fact that nobody amongst us forgets (…) The Russian proletariat is aware of its own revolutionary isolation, and it sees clearly that that the indispensable and fundamental condition for its own victory is the united intervention of the workers of the entire world"(Lenin, Report to the conference of factory committees of Moscow province, 23rd July 1918).

Internationalism has always been the cornerstone of the working class’ struggles, and of its revolutionary organisations’ programmes. This is the programme that Lenin and the Bolsheviks always defended. Armed with this programme, the proletariat was able to take power in Russia and so force the bourgeoisie to put an end to World War I. In doing so, it declared its own alternative: against the generalised barbarity of capitalism, transformation of the imperialist war into class war.

Calling this essential principle of proletarian internationalism into question has always been synonymous with quitting the proletarian camp, and going over to capital.

As the Russian revolution collapsed from the inside, Stalinism made this break in 1925. When Stalin put forward his thesis of "building socialism in one country" this was to be the basis for the most appalling counter-revolution in human history. Henceforth, the USSR was "Soviet" only in name. The dictatorship through the power of the workers’ councils (Soviets) was to be transformed into the merciless dictatorship of the Party-State over the proletariat.

By abandoning internationalism, Stalin, that worthy representative of the state bureaucracy, signed the revolution’s death-sentence. Under Stalin’s orders, the policy of the degenerating IIIrd International was to become a counter-revolutionary policy of the defence of capitalist interests. So, in China in 1927 the Communist Party followed Stalin’s instructions and dissolved itself into the Kuomintang (the Chinese nationalist party). In doing so, it disarmed the proletarian uprising in Shanghai and its own revolutionary militants, to deliver them bound hand and foot to the bloody repression of Chang kai Shek, declared an "honorary member" of the Stalinised International for the occasion.

The Stalinist counter-revolution then directed its bloody hatred against the developing Left Opposition to this nationalist policy: all those Bolsheviks who still tried, come what may, to defend the principles of October, were excluded from the party in the USSR, deported in their thousands, tracked down by the GPU, and finally executed during the great Moscow trials (with the wholehearted support and benediction of all the "democratic" countries!).

This is how the regime of Stalinist terror was set up, on the ruins of the 1917 October revolution. Thanks to this negation of communism - "socialism in one country" - the USSR became once again a wholly capitalist state where the proletariat was subjected at gunpoint to the interests of the national capital, in the name of the defence of the "socialist fatherland".

Thanks to the power of the workers’ councils, proletarian October brought World War I to a halt. The Stalinist counter-revolution, by destroying all revolutionary thought, by muzzling every attempt at class struggle, by subjecting the whole of social life to terror and militarisation, heralded the second world slaughter.

Each step in Stalinism’s development on the international scene during the 1930s was in fact marked by imperialist bargaining with the major capitalist powers, which were preparing to subject Europe once again to blood and destruction. Having used his alliance with German imperialism to thwart the latter’s expansion towards the East, Stalin turned his coat in the nid-30s to ally with the "democratic" bloc (in 1934, Russia joined the "den of thieves" as Lenin had described the League of Nations. 1935 saw the Stalin-Laval pact between the USSR and France.

The CPs took part in the "Popular Fronts" and in the Spanish Civil War, in the course of which the Stalinists did not hesitate to massacre any workers or revolutionaries who questioned their policies. On the eve of war, Stalin turned his coat yet again and sold the USSR’s neutrality to Hitler, in exchange for several territories, before finally joining the "Allied" camp in the imperialist massacre of World War II, where the Stalinist state was to sacrifice the lives of more than 20 million of its own citizens. This was the result of all Stalinism’s sordid dealings with the different imperialist sharks of Western Europe. Over heaps of corpses, Stalinism built its empire, and imposed its will on all the states which the treaty of Yalta brought under its exclusive domination.

But although Stalin was a "gift from heaven" for world capitalism in suppressing Bolshevism, one individual alone, however paranoiac, was not the architect of this terrible counter-revolution. The Stalinist state was controlled by the same ruling class as everywhere else: the national bourgeoisie. This bourgeoisie was reconstituted as the revolution degenerated from within, not from the old Tsarist ruling class which the revolution had eliminated in 1917, but on the basis of the parasitic bureaucracy of the state apparatus which under Stalin’s leadership was increasingly identified with the Bolshevik Party.

At the end of the 1920s, this Party-state bureaucracy wiped out all those sectors capable of forming a private bourgeoisie, and with which it had been allied (speculators and NEP landowners). In doing so, it took control of the economy. These conditions explain why, contrary to what happened in other countries, state capitalism in Russia took on this totalitarian and caricatural form. State capitalism is capitalism’s universal mode of domination in its period of decadence, when capitalism has to keep its grip on the whole of social life.

It gives rise to parasitic sectors everywhere. But in other capitalist countries, state control over the whole of society is not hostile to the existence of private, competitive sectors, preventing the complete domination of the economy by its parasitic sectors. The particular form of state capitalism in the USSR was characterised by an extreme development of the parasitic sector, which sprang from the state bureaucracy. Their only concern was not to make capital productive by taking account of market laws, but to fill their own pockets, even to the detriment of the national economy. From the viewpoint of the functioning of capitalism, this form of state capitalism was an aberration which could not but collapse as the world economic crisis accelerated. The collapse of the state capitalism which emerged from the Russian counter-revolution has signalled the irredeemable bankruptcy of the whole brutal ideology which, for more than half a century, had held the Stalinist regime together and held sway over millions of human beings.

This is how Stalinism was born; this is why it died. It appeared on the historical stage covered in the filth and blood of the counter-revolution. And covered in filth and blood, it is now leaving it, as we can see yet again in the horrible events in Romania which do no more than announce the imminence of still worse massacres at the heart of Stalinism: in the USSR itself.

Whatever the bourgeoisie and its venal media may say, this monstrous hydra has nothing whatever in common with the October revolution, either in form or content. The proletariat must become fully aware of this radical break, this total antagonism between Stalinism and the October revolution, if it is not to fall victim to another form of bourgeois dictatorship: that of the "democratic" state.

Democracy is only the most pernicious form of capital’s dictatorship

The spectacular collapse of Stalinism does not in the least mean that the proletariat has at last been liberated from the yoke of capital’s dictatorship. The decadent bourgeoisie is today burying in great pomp its most monstrous offspring the better to hide from the exploited masses the real nature of its class domination. To do so, it is constantly pushing the idea that there is a fundamental opposition between the "democratic" and the "totalitarian" forms of the bourgeois state.

This is nothing but lies. So-called "democracy" is nothing but a disguise for the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. It is the fig-leaf that the ruling class uses to cover its obscene system of terror and exploitation. This disgusting hypocrisy has always been denounced by revolutionaries, and in particular by Lenin addressing the first congress of the Communist International, when he said that the bourgeoisie always tries to find philosophical or political arguments to justify its own rule:

"Among these arguments, the condemnation of dictatorship and the apology for democracy are particularly emphasised (…) Firstly, this demonstration works with the help of the notions of ‘democracy in general’ and ‘dictatorship in general’, without ever asking which class we are talking about. To put the question like this, outside and above classes, supposedly from the viewpoint of the people as a whole, is an insult to the doctrine of socialism, in other words the theory of the class struggle (…) For in no civilised capitalist country does there exist ‘democracy in general’, but only bourgeois democracy, and it is not a question of ‘dictatorship in general’, but of the dictatorship of the oppressed class, ie the proletariat, over its oppressors and exploiters, ie the bourgeoisie, with the aim of breaking their resistance in their struggle for domination (…). This is why today’s defence of bourgeois democracy under cover of defending ‘democracy in general’, and today’s outcry against the dictatorship of the proletariat under the pretext of denouncing ‘dictatorship in general’ are nothing but a deliberate betrayal of socialism (…), a refusal of the proletariat’s right to its own proletarian revolution, a defence of bourgeois reformism just at the historic moment when bourgeois reformism is collapsing throughout the world, when the war has created a revolutionary situation (…). The history of the 19th and 20th centuries even before the war has already shown us what this much-vaunted ‘pure democracy’ really means under capitalism. Marxists have always affirmed that the more democracy is developed, the ‘purer’ it is, the more acute, bitter, and merciless becomes the class struggle, the more the yoke of capital and the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie appear in all their ‘purity’" (Lenin, "Theses on bourgeois democracy and the dictatorship of the proletariat", 1st Congress of the Communist International, 4th March 1919).

From its very birth, bourgeois democracy has proved itself the most pernicious form of capital’s merciless dictatorship. Already in the mid-17th century, before the proletariat could stand as the only class able to free humanity from capitalist exploitation, the first bourgeois revolution in England showed what democracy would be capable of. In 1648, faced with the first embryonic expressions of the communist movement, Cromwell’s democratic republic unleashed its bloody repression against the Levellers, who demanded that wealth be equally shared amongst all members of society.

In France, the young bourgeois democracy established in 1789 behaved with the same savagery when in 1797 it laid low Babeuf and the "Equals" for defending the same ideas. And the more the working class stood on its own terrain, the more firmly it resisted capital’s encroachments, the more capital’s democratic dictatorship was laid bare. The whole history of the workers’ movement throughout the 19th century is marked by bloody repression carried out by the most "progressive" ruling class of all time. We need only remember the crushing of the Lyon knife-workers’ insurrection in 1841 by an army of 20,000 men despatched by the "democratic" government of Casimir Perier. Remember the bloody days of June 1848 when the Parisian workers in revolt fell by thousands under the guns of the republic general Cavaignac, while the survivors were deported, imprisoned, or condemned to forced labour.

All freedom of association or of the press was forbidden to the working class in the name of the "defence of the Constitution". Remember how Gallifet’s republican troops defended the interests of the bourgeois class with the ferocious repression unleashed against the Communards of 1871, "that vile scum" as Thiers called them: more than 20,000 proletarians were assassinated during the "week of blood", more than 40,000 arrested, hundreds condemned to forced labour, thousands transported to New Caledonia, not to mention the repression of children torn from their parents to be placed in "houses of correction".

Such have been the despicable deeds of parliamentary democracy, with its "Declarations of Human Rights" and its fine principles of "liberty, equality, fraternity". Since its birth, it has fed on workers’ blood. And it has wallowed in blood and filth throughout the decadence of capitalism. In the name of "freedom", the most "free" and "civilised" of Europe’s great democratic powers entered into World War I, and massacred tens of millions of human beings to satisfy their imperialist appetites. And when the proletariat, with the first revolutionary wave of 1917-23, rose up against capitalist barbarity and tried, in Lenin’s words, to "strip away the artificial flowers with which the bourgeoisie tries to cover itself", the latter unveiled its true face once again. Faced with the spreading threat of the workers’ Soviets’ power, all the most "democratic" states (Britain, France, Germany, the USA) united their strength against the Russian revolution.

They supported the White armies throughout the civil war in Russia: the most "advanced" democratic states despatched arms, warships, and troops to arm to the teeth the counter-revolutionary forces engaged in the USSR, Poland, and Romania, in a merciless struggle against the first bastion of the proletarian revolution. In the name of threatened "democracy", the bourgeoisie the world over denounced the "dictatorship of the proletariat" and screamed "death to Bolshevism".

The same tender-hearted "democrats" who today are calling on us to give for the hungry Romanian population, organised an economic blockade of Soviet Russia in 1920, then struck by a terrible famine. They prevented all working class solidarity, the despatch of the most elementary aid, and coldly left hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children, to die of starvation. There are no bounds to the cynicism and infamy of this "democratic" bourgeoisie!

Then in January 1919, the new-born republican democracy in Germany, one of the most "democratic" in Europe, headed by the Social-Democratic government of Noske, Scheidemann, and Ebert massacred the Berlin workers and ordered the summary execution of the revolutionary leaders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. In the name of the defence of "democratic" liberties, these republicans pit-bulls used the worst terrorist methods to set up the dictatorship of the very "democratic" Weimar Republic, which was to serve as a stepping stone for Nazism.

Today, the whole of bourgeois propaganda is trying to make us swallow the idea that the proletarian revolution is synonymous with bloody barbarism. The truth is that ever since World War I, the worst barbarity has always been committed by parliamentary institutions in the name of democracy. Under the auspices of democratic institutions, Mussolini came to power as head of a parliamentary government in 1922. In Germany, it was the "democratic" Weimar Republic under Hindenburg which declared Hitler Chancellor in 1933 and opened the way to the Nazi terror.

In the name of democracy threatened by Franco’s hordes, the Spanish "Popular Front" sent thousands of workers to their deaths; the anti-fascist mystification used in Spain prepared the way for the second imperialist holocaust, and more than 50 million deaths. And in this bloody orgy of a desperate capitalism, still in the holy name of democracy, the bourgeoisie of the Allied imperialist bloc "liberated" the world from dictatorship by dropping atomic bombs on the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and systematically bombarding the great working-class concentrations of Dresden, Hamburg, and Berlin at the cost of almost 3 million casualties.

And ever since the end of World War II, the "Free World" has not ceased sowing death and destruction over the four corners of the planet. All the colonial expeditions, in Algeria, Africa, or Vietnam, were conducted under the flags of Western democracies, under the emblem of the "rights of man", in other words the right to torture, starve and massacre civilian populations under cover of "freedom" and "peoples’ right to self-determination". Under the aegis of these same "human rights", the "democratic" imperialist bloc is today conducting its crusades in the Middle East, perpetrating massacres in Iran and Iraq, in the Lebanon, the Philippines, and Panama in the name of the struggle against terrorism, religious fanaticism and military dictatorship. Still in the name of the defence of "freedom" and "order", the highly democratic states of Argentina and Venezuela put down the hunger riots at the beginning of 1989.

"Human rights" have always been capitalism’s justification for its worst massacres. "Human rights" are the rights of the ruling class to subject the oppressed masses to its rct the oppressed masses to its rule, to impose its class dictatorship by state terror.

This is why today, as Stalinism declares itself bankrupt, there is nothing for the proletariat to support in the democratic camp, which has nothing to offer but, as Churchill said on another occasion, "blood, sweat, and tears". If the Western bourgeoisie is today settling its accounts with Stalinism, and ringing in the triumph of "democracy" over "totalitarianism", it is only the better to make us forget their own crimes. The Western democracies’ shocked rejection of Stalinist terror today should not make us forget that our "democrats" were Stalin’s worst accomplices in the systematic extermination of the last combatants of October 1917.

It was with the support and benediction of the "democratic" world that the Stalinist counter-revolution imposed itself for decades on millions of human beings. Stalinism and democracy are just two sides of the same coin, as were fascism and anti-fascism before them. Two complementary ideologies which cover one and the same reality: the implacable dictatorship of capital, which the proletariat must necessarily answer with its own class dictatorship. This alone will be able to wash humanity clean of all the blood sphumanity clean of all the blood spilled during capital’s domination.

The world proletarian revolution is indeed the only alternative to the barbarity of capitalism. This is the alternative that the bourgeoisie is doing everything it can to distort and disfigure, using the stinking corpse of Stalinism to drive home the message that these regimes’ bankruptcy means the failure of communism.

Faced with the increasing barbarity of capitalism, there is only one perspective: the renewed class struggle of the world proletariat

The irreversible collapse of the Eastern bloc is not due to the failure of communism. It is the most brutal sign so far of the bankruptcy of the capitalist economy: an economy condemned to collapse piece by piece under the blows of a chronic and insoluble crisis. In this sense, the utter bankruptcy of the Eastern bloc countries only heralds that of the most industrialised Western countries, as the crisis inexorably accelerates. Already, the first signs of recession in Great Britain and the USA announce the generalised recession which will hit the world economy in the months and years to come.

Capitalism will be forced to impose on the Western working class still greater poverty and austerity, with lay-offs by the truck-load, falling wages and ever more infernal work rates. In the Eastern countries, the "liberalisation" of the economy will create, as is already the case in Poland, an explosion of unemployment and hunger, which will simply be a preparation for real famine. The proletariat in these countries will endure suffering worse than anything since World War II. The "democratic" governments with all their "humanitarian" aid and "solidarity" are just trying to pull the wool over our eyes. They are only trying to feed the present democratic campaigns, to give some credit to the idea that only Western capitalism is capable of filling hungry bellies, of bringing freedom and plenty to the exploited masses. They aim to turn the workers away from the only real solidarity which can offer humanity a future: class solidarity, the development world-wide of the combat against capitalist exploitation, against this system of poverty, massacres, and endless barbarism.

Today, as Stalinism collapses and capitalism trumpets its "victory" over "communism", the bourgeoisie has scored a point. It has succeeded in provoking a profound confusion in the ranks of the working class. Momentarily, it has succeeded in halting the proletariat’s march towards the affirmation of its own revolutionary perspective. But the ruling class cannot indefinitely escape History’s verdict.

The crisis will continue to accelerate; in doing so, it will prove itself the proletariat’s best ally. This is what will force the working class to take up the combat, once again, on its own terrain: resistance step by step against all the attacks on its own conditions of existence. The worsening world economic situation will lay bare capitalism’s historic impasse. In doing so, it will force the proletariat to look the truth in the face, and through its economic struggles become aware of the need to put an end to this moribund system and build a true world-wide communist society.

In the struggles that must lead it to final victory, the working class will have no choice but to confront openly all the agents of the "democratic" state, and especially the trades unions and their leftist appendages. The latter’s only function is to disarm the proletariat, to hinder the development of its class consciousness, and to try today to inject it with the reformist illusion in the possibility of improving the system, in order to turn it away from its own revolutionary perspective.

The proletariat cannot escape from this difficult struggle against capitalism and all its defenders. If it is to save itself, and the rest of humanity along with it, it will have to confront and overcome the obstacles that the bourgeoisie sows in its path, to denounce the lies spewed out daily, to become aware of what is really at stake in its combat, and of the immense responsibility it carries on its shoulders.

ICC, 8th January 1990