Russia, Caucasus, Central Asia

The advance of Russian imperialism and the world wide sharpening of imperialist tensions

Russia’s drive for expansion pushed it towards central Asia and the far East. In the West its rivalries with Germany, France and GB were prevailing, around the Black Sea it clashed with the Ottoman Empire (in the Crimean war 1854-56 it had already confronted Britain and France), in central Asia it clashed with Britain, (Britain waged two wars over Afghanistan (1839-42, 1878-1880, in order to fend off Russian influence in Afghanistan). In the far East it had to come into conflict mainly with Japan and especially Britain – which was the dominant European imperialist force in the far East.

90 years after Kronstadt: a tragedy that's still being debated in the revolutionary movement

The discussion on the ICC’s French internet forum has been particularly animated and passionate these last few weeks around a tragic event: the bloody crushing of the insurgents at Kronstadt.

Ninety years ago, in 1921, the workers stood up to the Bolshevik Party demanding, amongst other things, the restoration of real power to the soviets. The Bolshevik Party then took the terrible decision to repress them.

A participant in this forum debate called Youhou sent us a letter which we warmly welcome and which we publish here below. She makes both the effort to synthesize the different points of view coming out of the posts and to clearly take a position.

Kyrgyzstan pogroms organised by the capitalist state

Since the fall of the Kyrgyzstan president Bakayev, exiled from the country following violent riots in the capital city Bishkek, the country has become even more unstable, culminating in a number of horrific pogroms, centred round the town of Osh, where the Uzbek minority was subjected to murder, rape, robbery and arson. 

Maintaining imperialist control over its backyard: Mission Impossible for the Russian bourgeoisie

The impression that Russian imperialism is making more and ground in its immediate sphere of influence has been strengthened by a number of spectacular events recently. But do the successes that Russia has achieved allow us to talk about a triumphant forward march of Russian imperialism?

Russia: workers’ bravery against state repression

The repression of the working class is a feature of all capitalist regimes, whether ‘democratic' or ‘dictatorial'. The bourgeois class uses terror to impose its social order on the exploited. In Russia, the overtly criminal nature of the social, economic and political system explains the permanence of state repression against the working class.

Russia reasserts its imperialist ambitions

The growing tensions between Russia and the US have come out into the open. The media talk is of a new Cold War, with Putin responding to US ‘Star Wars’ plans by threatening to point his nuclear missiles at the heart of Europe. But if anything, the situation is more dangerous than it was in the period between 1945 and 1989 when the two superpowers held us in the shadow of Mutually Assured Destruction.

Kondopoga: Down with pogroms, weapons of the state to divide the working class!

A real outpouring of hatred, of rioting, arson and pillage, has taken place in Kondopoga, a small industrial town close to the Russian-Finnish border. The target of these attacks was the Caucasian and Chechen minority. These events have had quite an impact at the national level, in Russia, and even internationally.

ICC public meeting in Moscow: Decadence of capitalism means all national struggles are reactionary

In October the ICC held a public meeting in Moscow to present our pamphlet on the decadence of capitalism, recently published in the Russian language.

This meeting and the publication of the pamphlet in Russian are an expression of the emerging revolutionary milieu in Russia, which the ICC has written about extensively (see for example International Review 111).

The real motivations for the US offensive

The anti-terrorist crusade that the American ruling class has been carrying out for the past 6 months has been a considerable success.

The USA has installed its military headquarters at the heart of a new strategic region, Central Asia, not only by directly occupying the former military bases of the former USSR republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kirghizstan, but also, more recently, by sending US military advisers to Georgia. This country, still run by Gorbachev’s former minister Shevardnaze, is thus totally outside of Russia’s control at the precise moment when Russia had envisaged intervening in Georgia, which has been accused of acting as a base for ‘Chechen terrorists’. We are also beginning to see America’s attempts to take control of Yemen, which occupies a key position between the African and Asian continents via the Gulf of Aden which links the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.

Sinking of the Kursk: Cynicism of the bourgeoisie

Revolutionaries are anything but indifferent to the atrocious end of these young conscripts, trapped in a steel coffin at the bottom of the sea, just as they are not indifferent to the tragedies which are unfolding all over the planet, the massacres and famines, the death of refugees by drowning or asphyxiation, or all the other manifestations of the barbarity of dying capitalism. But they are also required to keep a cool head in order to understand the messages which the bourgeois media try to instil in the minds of the exploited, messages aimed at getting them to accept this barbarity. In particular, they have to denounce the attempt to convince the workers of the most advanced countries that they are in many ways lucky because "it’s much worse elsewhere, and above all in the former ‘socialist paradises’".

October 1917: reply to the GPRC

Presentation of the GPRC’s text

Why, 80 years after the October revolution, does capitalism still dominate the world”. To reply to this question, according to the GPRC, it is necessary to use the method of historical materialism and pose another question: “was the level of the development of productive forces of mankind (first of all in the most highly-developed countries) in the 19th - first half of 20th centuries sufficient to make proletarians capable to organise the ruling over production, distribution & exchange by all the society as a whole?

In Russia: an internationalist forum

The initiative has been taken by three organisations (International Communist Current, the Moscow organisation of the Confederation of revolutionary Anarcho-Syndicalists, Russia, and the Group of the revolutionary proletarian collectivists, Russia) to set up an internationalist discussion forum. The first subject submitted for debate is that of the lessons to be learned from the defeat of the October Revolution.

Beslan, Iraq: a new step in the decomposition of capitalism

The latest developments on the international scene have plunged the world still further into “an endless fear”, an insane succession of terrorist attacks, bombings, kidnappings, hostage taking and murder. In Iraq, this has reached levels that could have barely been imagined only a few years ago. The savage killings in the Russian town of Beslan in North Ossetia bear witness to the fact that the rest of the world, especially its most strategic areas, will not be spared either. The situation is so bad that talk of chaos is no longer the domain of a few “catastrophists”, but has become an ever more present subject in the media and the political world.

1996-2004: from the Moscow conference to the internationalist forum

The international wave of workers’ struggles of 1968-72 put an end to the long period of counter-revolution which descended on the proletariat following the defeat of the revolutionary attempts of 1917-23. One of the clearest expressions of this was the re-appearance of a whole number of proletarian groups and circles who, despite enormous inexperience and confusion, tried to repair the broken links with the communist movement of the past. During the 1970s, when the immediate (and indeed immediatist) optimism generated by the revival of the class struggle was still very much alive, proletarian political currents like the ICC or the Bordigist ICP went through a phase of accelerated and even spectacular growth. However, the construction of a communist organisation – as with the progress of the class struggle as a whole - proved to be a much more difficult and painful process than many of the ‘generation of 68’ first believed; and not a few of that generation of militants or ex-militants have gone from facile optimism to an equally superficial pessimism, concluding that the period of counter-revolution never came to an end, or expressing their disappointment in the working class by abandoning revolutionary politics altogether.

Reply to the KRAS

Essentially, the purpose of the KRAS' text, is to highlight the reasons for the defeat of the Russian revolution: “For most of the 'lefts', the Russian revolution of 1917-21 remains an 'unknown revolution', as it was described by the exiled anarchist Voline, 60 years ago. The main reason for this situation is not a lack of information, but the great number of myths that have been built around it. Most of these myths are a result of the confusion between the Russian revolution and the activities of the Bolshevik party. It is not possible to free oneself from these confusions without understanding the real role of the Bolsheviks in the events of this period (...) A widespread myth holds that the Bolshevik party was not just a party like any other, but the vanguard of the working class (...) All the illusions on the 'proletarian' nature of the Bolsheviks are disproved by their systematic opposition to the workers' strikes as early as 1918, and the crushing of the Kronstadt workers in 1921 by the guns of the Red Army. This was not a 'tragic misunderstanding', but the crushing by armed power of the 'ignorant' rank and file. The Bolshevik leaders pursued concrete interests and carried out a concrete policy (...) Their vision of the state as such, of the domination over the masses, is significant of individuals without any feeling for equality, for whom egoism dominates, for whom the masses are merely a raw material without any will of their own, without initiative and without consciousness, incapable of creating social self-management. This is the basic trait of Bolshevik psychology. It is typical of the dominating character. Arshinov spoke of this new stratum as a 'new caste', the 'fourth caste'. Willy-nilly, with such a viewpoint the Bolsheviks could not carry out anything other than a bourgeois revolution (...) Let us try first of all to see what revolution was on the agenda in Russia in 1917 (...) the Social-Democracy (including of the Bolshevik variety) always overestimated the degree of development of capitalism and the extent of Russia's 'Europeanisation' (...) In reality, Russia was more a 'third-world' country, to use a present-day term (...) The Bolsheviks became the protagonists of a bourgeois revolution without the bourgeoisie, of capitalist industrialisation without private capitalists (...) Once in power, the Bolsheviks played the part of a 'party of order' which did not try to develop the social character of the revolution. The programme of the Bolshevik government had no socialist content...

Against state terror and nationalist terrorism! For international proletarian solidarity!

The slaughter of over 300 people, the majority of them children, at School Number One in the North Ossetian town of Beslan, cannot fail to provoke indignation and revulsion. No less than the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001 in the US, this was a war crime in which, as ever, the most defenceless members of the civilian population are the first victims. In Beslan, the hostages were subjected to intimidation, hunger, thirst and summary executions, while many more who survived the initial explosion in the gym where they were being held were shot in the back by the hostage-takers when they tried to flee.

In the days following the massacre, world leaders have been rushing to express their 'solidarity with the Russian people' and with their 'strong leader' Mr Putin. At the Republican Convention in New York, Bush did not hesitate to include the Russian state's war against Chechen separatism in the global 'war on terrorism' spearheaded by the USA. In Moscow tens of thousands took part in an official anti-terrorist march under banners declaring 'Putin, we are with you'.

After Beslan: Why Britain supports Russia's state terror in Chechnya

The horror of the kidnapping and slaughter in Beslan has barely passed and already Russia is gearing up for another huge crackdown. This time the Russian bourgeoisie has learnt the lessons of September 11th and is instituting a large number of new repressive laws aimed as much at its own population as 'foreign terrorists'. Meanwhile, in Chechnya, they are waiting for the next attack.

Response to the Marxist Labour Party

Response to the Marxist Labour Party on the 'Anatomy of October'

First of all, we want to salute the seriousness of this text, the efforts of the Marxist Labour Party to translate it and circulate it internationally, and the invitation to other proletarian organisations to comment on it. The nature of the October revolution, and of the Stalinist regime which arose out of its defeat, has always been a crucial issue for revolutionaries; and it is a problem which can only be approached by using the Marxist method. As the title of the text suggests, this is an attempt to uncover the "Marxist anatomy" of the October revolution, and it does so by referring to and seeking to elaborate some of the classics of Marxism (Engels, Lenin, etc). As we shall see, there are a number of points in the text with which we agree, and others which, although we do not agree with them, raise important points of debate. Nevertheless, we feel that the text does not succeed in its fundamental aim - to define the essential nature of the October revolution; and it is for this reason that we will focus mainly on our most important disagreements with the text.

Correspondence with Russia

On several occasions, we have welcomed the emergence of revolutionary groups and elements in Eastern Europe, and in particular in Russia. They are clearly appearing within an international context. On every continent, the proletarian political groups that represent the tradition of the communist left have in the last few years been making contact with this kind of element. We should therefore understand this as a characteristic medium-term tendency of the present period. Ever since the collapse of the USSR and its imperialist bloc, the bourgeoisie has been triumphantly proclaiming the bankruptcy of communism and the end of the class struggle. Already unsettled by these events, the working class could not but retreat under the hammer blows of the bourgeoisie's ideologica the bourgeoisie's ideological campaigns. But outside period of counter-revolution, a historic class cannot help reacting against attacks which call so deeply into question its own being and perspective. If it is unable to defend itself through the generalisation of its economic demands, then it will do so by strengthening its political vanguard. The isolated elements, discussion circles, nuclei and little groups should not look to themselves or to coincidence to find the reason for their existence. They are a product of the international working class, and a heavy responsibility lies on their shoulders. They must first recognise the historic process of which they are a product, and fight to the utmost for their consciousness and their political clarity, without being put off by the difficulty of the task.

Correspondance from Russia

Following the collapse of the USSR, various individuals and small groups have emerged within Russia since 1990 to question the world bourgeoisie's lying equation that Stalinism equalled communism.

The marxist anatomy of October 1917

The marxist anatomy of October 1917 and the present situation

The text which we are publishing below is the complete version of a text from the Marxist Labour Party in Russia, excerpts of which have been published in the print edition of the International Review. Our reply can be read here.ICC

War in Afghanistan: geo-strategy or oil profits?

Amid the roar of imperialist savagery in Afghanistan, tiny groups of internationalists have proclaimed their rejection of all the contending imperialisms, denounced any illusion in pacifying capitalism or support for any agencies with this objective, and called for the development of class struggle that alone can overthrow the world wide capitalist system, the mainspring of imperialist war.

Reply to the MLP: Proletarian Socialist Revolution Against the 'Right of Nations to Self-Determination'

In previous issues of the International Reviewwe have published a considerable amount of correspondence with the Marxist Labour Party in Russia. The main focus of this exchange has been our disagreements about the problem of capitalism’s decadence and its implications for certain key questions, notably the class nature of the October revolution and the problem of “national liberation”.

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