The Russian Revolution Changed The World Forever

ussr-soviet-day

Stephen Millies

Ninety-six years ago on Nov. 7, 1917, workers and peasants overthrew the capitalist government in Russia.

Two million soldiers in the Russian army had died in World War I. Russia was ruled by the cruel Czar Nicholas II.

Like the United States, the Russian Empire was a big prison of oppressed nationalities. Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Poles, Ukrainians, Georgians, Finns, Armenians and other peoples were denied self-determination.

Russian peasants and workers were also oppressed. Many had been serfs, a sort of land slavery. Serf families couldn’t be broken up and sold like cattle, as African slaves were in the U.S., but they could be worked to death. Thirty thousand serfs died building St. Petersburg, the former Russian capital.

Serfdom was abolished in 1861, two years after John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry. The outbreak of the U.S. Civil War may have influenced the czar to get rid of serfdom before the serfs got rid of him.

Lenin and the Bolsheviks

By 1914, serfdom was gone, but 30,000 big landlords still ruled the countryside. The vast majority of people were peasants who couldn’t read or write. Women had no rights.

Foreign capital poured into Russia, grabbing huge profits from long workdays in the factories. Striking workers were shot down.

Oppression breeds revolution. V.I. Lenin was the greatest leader of Russia’s revolution. He built a communist party commonly known as the Bolsheviks.

Lenin was 17 when his older brother Alexander was hanged in 1887 for trying to assassinate Czar Alexander III. That’s the same age Black revolutionary Jonathan Jackson was in 1970, when he was killed trying to free his older brother George Jackson and other political prisoners.

Lenin studied the teachings of Karl Marx. Lenin taught that workers had to be imbued with Marx’s revolutionary knowledge and determination to win.

Soviets vs. pogroms

The first Russian Revolution broke out in 1905. Workers went on strike, shutting down factories and railroads. Peasants burned the gentry’s mansions. Czarism was on the ropes.

Workers formed councils called soviets. These councils had no formal legislative power, but they had great authority among the workers, peasants and soldiers.

European banks poured in loans to save czarist tyranny. The 1905 Revolution was defeated. The czar was able to pit peasant soldiers against workers and even other peasants, just as billionaires divide poor and working people in the U.S. today with racism and anti-immigrant bigotry.

Mass lynchings called pogroms killed Jewish people, just as the Ku Klux Klan did to African Americans here.

The Bolsheviks fought pogroms with guns in hand. Lenin waged war on racism. He enriched Marxism by teaching that workers in the big capitalist countries had to support revolts in the colonies.

“What emotion, enthusiasm, clear- sightedness and confidence it instilled into me!” was how Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh described Lenin’s “Theses on the National and Colonial Questions.”

Peace, land and bread

Sick of war and hunger, women textile workers in Petersburg went on strike on March 8, 1917, International Working Women’s Day. The holiday commemorates a 1908 march of women garment workers in New York City.

Five days later, czarism was overthrown. Workers, peasants and soldiers made that revolution, but capitalists controlled the new government.

For the next eight months Lenin’s Bolsheviks won millions of poor people to socialist revolution by demanding bread, peace and land. Despite Lenin and other leaders being forced underground, Bolsheviks won majorities in the soviets that sprung up everywhere.

These soviets overthrew capitalist politician Alexander Kerensky on Nov. 7 (Oct. 25 by the old Russian calendar). Many peoples, not just Russians, rose up to break their chains.

Peasants threw out their landlords. Bolsheviks exposed secret treaties among the imperialists that divided up colonies. This revolutionary energy helped overthrow Germany’s kaiser and end World War I in 1918.

Capitalist governments, including the U.S., then waged war against the Soviets on a dozen fronts. But the Red Army, organized and led by another Bolshevik leader, Leon Trotsky, was victorious.

The 73-year war

Following Lenin’s death the enormous difficulties involved in trying to build socialism in a very underdeveloped country, encircled by imperialism, led to struggles in the party and then to backward steps. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin purged Bolshevik opponents while making concessions to careerists and increasing inequality.

Nevertheless, at the same time the Soviet Union launched the first and biggest affirmative action program in history. Every person had the right to education in their own language. The Soviet five-year plans created the world’s second-biggest economy. Everyone had a job.

But the Soviet Union remained the target of world capitalism. German big capital handed power to Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Party so the Nazis could crush the German working class. German imperialism invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.

With Stalin leading the government, the Soviet Union defeated Hitler, but nearly 26 million Soviet people died in World War II. The Red Army liberated all of Eastern Europe from Nazi rule, including the extermination camp at Auschwitz.

The Pentagon spent $5.5 trillion on nuclear weapons aimed at the Soviet Union. This relentless pressure undermined socialist solidarity and finally led to the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Despite this tremendous defeat, the lessons of the October Revolution will live forever.

Russian Revolution Still a Shining Example

worker-kolkhoz.jpg

Eugene Puryear

(Originally posted in Nov. 2009 and updated slightly.)

Nov. 7 marks the 96th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution. While the revolution itself could be considered a more drawn-out process, Nov. 7 stands as its most outstanding date. When the majority of workers, peasants and soldiers took over state and governmental power, for the first time in the history of class society a country was not controlled and governed by a tiny group of monarchists, capitalists or other exploiting class.

Just six months before, all actors in the political drama had considered it impossible for such a revolution to occur so soon.

Prior to the revolution, the Russian Empire—roughly the same territory later covered by the Soviet Union—was ruled by the czar, or emperor. The czar had absolute power. He ruled both through the Russian Orthodox Church, which created a religious veneer for the regime, and by virtue of his hereditary position as the richest and most central of a group of feudal princes who divided the land amongst themselves.

Small in number, they had tied the vast majority of the country, some four-fifths of the population, to the land like feudal serfs. Although serfdom was formally abolished in 1861, serf-like conditions continued well into the 20th century. Along with the feudal remnants of the 17th century, a section of the nobility wished not only to emulate Europe but also to establish the place of the ruling classes of Russia alongside those of Britain, France and Germany—that is, the most powerful capitalist countries of Europe. That meant Russia also had to develop capitalist industry.

The czar, however, was aware that popular forces led by the capitalist class had overthrown the absolute monarchs in Western Europe. He therefore sought to control the process and preserve the aristocratic class. Capitalism in Russia thus developed in its own peculiar and somewhat “deformed” way. As a proportion of the economy, industry remained relatively small. However, in technique it matched the advanced nations of Western Europe, and indeed foreign, mostly British and French, investors owned most of Russian industry.

The workers were drawn from the peasantry, closely connecting the two laboring classes. Many of Russia’s new capitalists were also landowners and part of the nobility. Illiteracy, poverty, hunger, disease and poor housing ravaged the lives of both the workers and the peasants, in sharp distinction to the great wealth and high living of the czar and aristocracy.

Elements of the new capitalist class in Russia, however, chafed under the czar, as did many of the intelligentsia. Both sectors resented and felt oppressed by the czar’s absolute power. These pressures accompanied the demands of the workers and peasants for more economic and political rights.

War lays basis for revolution

When Russia followed France and England into the First World War, social tensions inside the empire became exacerbated. By 1917, war had wreaked a terrible toll. The brunt of the hundreds of thousands of deaths was borne by the peasants, who were forcibly conscripted. Hunger, disease and poor living conditions ravaged the rank-and-file soldiers just as the rest of the exploited classes.

It was under these pressures that the czar’s regime finally fell. On International Women’s Day, Feb. 23, 1917, on the Gregorian calendar, women textile workers launched a strike in Petrograd, the capital of Russia. Over five days, the textile workers’ strike grew into a general strike, and the army split, with rank-and-file soldiers coming over to the side of the workers.

It took five days for the czar’s government in Petrograd to fall, and some months for the monarchy to be swept away in various parts of the country. Parties representing the capitalists, petty capitalist elements and, purportedly, the peasantry, formed a provisional government.

The reformist socialists—the Mensheviks—and the peasant-based Social Revolutionary Party supported the provisional government. The Mensheviks justified their support for the new bourgeois government by arguing that the revolution would have to pass through a separate “bourgeois” stage where a capitalist republic would be established, with formal democratic rights, as a prerequisite for a socialist revolution. Until their central leader, Vladimir I. Lenin, returned from forced exile in April 1917, the Bolshevik Party, too, gave support to the new regime.

The provisional government, however, was very fragile. The weak Russian capitalist class, totally dependent on Anglo-French imperialism, could not end Russia’s involvement in the war. Prostrate before the Western imperialists, and with little to no independent social base, forces of the provisional government began to move closer to monarchist elements scheming to return to power.

Meanwhile, the workers and peasants had created their own structures of power—soviets. The soviets, or councils, were mass democratic organs based in the factories, districts and military units, as well in some parts of the countryside.

Thus, a type of “dual power” arose. On the one hand, the precarious provisional government was besieged on all sides, unable to end the war or meet the workers’ and peasants’ other social and economic demands. And on the other, the soviets of soldiers, workers and peasants potentially represented the interests of the toiling, exploited masses, who continued to clamor for relief from the jaws of war and poverty.

In April 1917, Bolshevik leader Lenin arrived in Petrograd and grasped the situation immediately. He understood that the nascent Russian capitalist class could not end the war and would not touch the great landed estates or capitalist industry, leaving all the demands of the masses unmet. He argued that instead the soviets of soldiers’, workers’, and peasants’ deputies should take power in their own name.

Rather than depend on the provisional government to provide “Land, Peace, and Bread,” they should gather all the power in the organs of the working masses, demanding and achieving “All Power to the Soviets.” When Lenin first produced his famous April Theses, only a small minority of the party’s Central Committee supported his position. But the force of his arguments and the unfolding of events soon won over the Bolshevik leaders and rapidly growing rank-and-file membership.

On Nov. 7 (Oct. 25 according to the old Russian calendar) the workers, peasants and soldiers rose again, and it was these two slogans that drew them over to the Bolsheviks, giving the revolutionary communists leadership of the soviets. Under that leadership, the workers in alliance with the peasantry deposed the provisional government and assumed total control through the soviets.

This “October Revolution” reverberated all around the world. In China, where Marxism had no history, small circles of revolutionaries began to discuss the ideas of communism. Among them was Mao Tse-tung who urged the Chinese people to “Arise and Imitate” the great popular unity of the October rising. Two years later, in May 1920, Mao and the few other communists formed the Chinese Communist Party, which went on to lead the great Chinese Revolution of 1949.

Over time, when at the peak of its power, U.S. imperialism, along with its imperialist allies, succeeded in dividing the world communist movement and containing the Russian Revolution, leading to the overthrow of the Soviet Union and to other major working-class defeats.

Millions have looked to the Russian Revolution for inspiration, however, because it continues to stand as a shining example of how the majority of society, its exploited and oppressed masses, can under the leadership of a revolutionary party take power in their own hands, mold it in their favor and take a giant leap toward wiping away all vestiges of exploitation.

With capitalism entering an era of deepening crisis, and U.S. imperialism in apparently irreversible decline, the beacon of the October Revolution shines brighter than ever.

Syria: Empire’s Last Gasp

IMPERIAL CRUSADE AGAINST SYRIA

Oscar Sánchez Serra

WHY is the United States attacking Syria?

Brazil, Russia – reborn as a superpower and an uncomfortable one – India and China – are emerging economies that are already acting as leaders on the world geopolitical stage. It is said that India and China, also the most populated nations of the world, will mark the rate of development during the 21st century. In other words, one has to be prepared for a global transfer of power. The current empire will not be the most powerful.

For Viktor Burbaki of the U.S. Strategic Culture Foundation, mathematical models of the global geopolitical dynamic have led to the conclusion that a grand-scale victory in a war utilizing conventional means is the only option for the United States being able to reverse the rapid collapse of its geopolitical status. Burbaki affirms that if the current geopolitical dynamic persists, a change in global leadership could be expected by 2025, and the only way in which the United States can derail this process is by unleashing a war on a grand scale.

Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 have already endured imperial attacks, utilizing the same argument based on a pack of lies. The tactic of the world gendarme has never been to challenge states that could dispute its global supremacy, for which reason Burbaki considers that Iran, Syria and Shi’ite groups, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, face the greatest danger of suffering strikes in the name of a new world redistribution of power. The specialist did not state this the other day, but more than 12 months ago, in February of 2012.

In other words, to get rid of Syria and Iran, obstacles on the route to U.S. global domination, would be Washington’s next natural step.

Paul Farrell, U.S. columnist and financial analyst, stated last April that the United States needed a new war, in order for capital to thrive. He ironically commented then, in a brief note which appeared in Russia Today, “Didn’t WWII get us out of the Great Depression?” He capped this statement off with data which informs his thesis that wars benefit capitalists above all. The Forbes list of world billionaires skyrocketed from 322 in 2000 to 1,426 recently, 31% of them being American.

Marcelo Colussi, Argentine psychologist, professor, writer, journalist and full-time activist for social justice and global dignity, has one of the most convincing answers to the question as to why the United States would attack Syria. When, at the beginning of the 20th century, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge said that his country’s business consisted of doing business, this has today been transformed into doing business with war. Let others do the fighting and here we are to sell them weapons.

In this context, the Argentine intellectual passes his verdict that today, U.S. power is based on wars, always those in other nations, never on its own territory. In any event, war is its axis; its domestic economy is nourished to a large extent by the arms industry and its planetary hegemony (appropriation of raw materials and imposition of the rules of the economic and political game on a global scale, with primacy of the dollar. Today, Washington needs wars. Without wars, the power would not be a power.

What we are seeing now with a besieged Syria, what is leading the Middle East into a war of unforeseeable consequences, with the real target, Iran, following behind and with Israel, which is waiting, pressuring and coercing the master to the North to fulfill its promise of punishing that Persian country, is not a chance operation.

The first victim of war is the truth. While in Iraq the most obscene fallacies were its possession of weapons of mass destruction and its close links with Al Qaeda, and in Iran, the manufacture of powerful nuclear armaments, in Syria the lie is chemical weapons utilized by President Al-Assad against his own people, although nobody with the most elemental common sense believes it, because Syria would be the least to benefit by creating a pretext such as this.

But lies are part of the plan, and this one did not come into existence overnight, nor was it improvised in a bar over a few beers, but in the White House, in 1997, when a group of fevered minds of the alienated ultra-right created a project for the New American Century, with the objective of sustaining the United States as the hegemonic superpower of the planet, at any and all costs.

The objectives of the project are the opening up, stability, control and globalization of markets, as well as security and freedom of trade; unrestricted access to energy sources and raw materials needed to dynamize the U.S. economy and those of its allies; the monitoring and control in real time of people and all significant political and social movements opposed to its interests; the expansion and domination of the financial and industrial capital of its companies and transnational corporations; and the assuring of control over the means of communication and world information.

To that end it has not even stinted on mercenaries, who abound in Syria – well paid and armed – nor in the deployment of U.S. military might, as well as creating situations within nations, such as the manufacture and unveiling of the so-called Arab Spring in North Africa, which ended with the assassination, recorded live, of Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Who thought up and armed this insanity based on the industry of death, the real sustenance of the U.S. economy? Illustrious neo-cons with senior positions in the administrations of Reagan, George Bush (father and son); in other words: Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Dan Quayle, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Elliott Abrams, John Bolton and Richard Perle, among others. Who sheltered them politically? The Republican Party, the Democratic Party, AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), or the pro-Israeli lobby in the nation of the stars and stripes; and many powerful organizations on Wall Street, in the media and in the powerful military-industrial complex. It would seem that it is not important who the President happens to be.

The Twin Towers were brought down, but this provided the basis for the rising up of the Project, sowing the divine fundamentalist idea that the United States is the only nation capable of combating the terrible evils of Islamist terrorism, drug trafficking, or organized crime, even though it is within its own territory that most terrorists are harbored, where the highest quantity of drugs are consumed, and where criminals enjoy impunity. An implacable media crusade was launched which fixed fear and danger in the mentality of citizens of the world.

It has reached the extent that, even the UN, in its investigation into the existence of chemical weapons in Syria – the key pretext for the aggression – has stated that its research is only to confirm whether they were used or not, and not who utilized them.

A variant of the of the Arab Spring was already tested out in Syria, but failed in destabilizing the country, hence the recourse of destroying the nation and leaving it without a government, and without order, because social anarchy there would justify a U.S. presence, plus that of its allies with all their troops and even a coalition. This would provide a gateway to Iran, additionally keeping a close watch on the dangerous Hezbollah in Lebanon, and a commitment to Israel which, since its defeat by this force in 2006, has not been able to heal its wounds.

Who can be left in any doubt that all of this is an orchestrated plot, and that the United States and its allies are not bothered as to whether or not chemical weapons enter the equation?

What does interest it is the geo-strategic situation of Damascus and imperial power, even if this involves a bloodbath in this nation of heroic people, and world peace is once again trampled by the nation and government which sets itself up as the paradigm of human rights. But it should be careful. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.

Syria & Cruise Missile “Socialists”

The ISO and the war on Syria: Silly and shameful

 

In recent weeks there has been a real upsurge of activity on the part of the anti-war movement in the U.S. Protests have been held in scores of cities – more that 50 on Sept. 7 alone – including substantial demonstrations in cities like New York and Chicago. An article published in the Socialist Worker on Sept. 10, entitled “Standing against both war and dictatorship,” goes a long way toward explaining why the International Socialist Organization (ISO) has been by and large irrelevant, or worse yet, an obstacle to this growing movement against another U.S. war.

Penned by ISO member Eric Ruder, the article takes to task three socialist organizations: Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), Workers World Party (WWP) and the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) for supporting Syria in its fight to defeat a vicious onslaught from U.S. and Western imperialism, reactionary Arab states and the Israelis.

We in FRSO have constantly stated our views on this matter and we will always be on the side of those who resist imperialism.

Sectarianism directed at Syrian Americans

The anti-war movement is a united front, which brings together diverse viewpoints and forces. The level of political understanding about what’s happening in Syria is uneven and we need to unite people who have a wide range of perspectives. To oppose a U.S. attack on Syria, it is important that we have broad slogans that unite all who can be united, such as “Hands off Syria,” or “No U.S. war on Syria.” That’s a given.

It should also be a given that we build unity with Syrian Americans who are concerned about their loved ones at home and support their country in its battle with imperialism. Sadly this is not the case for the ISO.

In many cities, Syrian Americans have one of the most constant, dynamic, and in some cases, the largest force in the current anti-war movement. Most people would say that is a good thing, but not the ISO. Instead they complain about the flags, signs, and portraits that Syrian Americans bring to protests.

For example in Chicago, Syrian Americans have been extremely active in anti-war demonstrations. How does the ISO evaluate this? Ruder’s article says, “The ugly consequences of ‘antiwar’ support for the Syrian regime were easy to see in Chicago, where organizers of ‘Hands off Syria’ protests repeatedly turned over the platform to representatives of the Syrian American Forum…” Imagine that. Syrian Americans help organize demonstrations, turn out in large numbers and often speak from the platform.

The ISO, which has never been big on opposing U.S. intervention in Syria, was apparently “caught off guard” when they finally did make their way to the anti-war protests and found Syrian Americans expressing their views. It seemed “ugly” to them. Perhaps it is more a case of ISO playing the Ugly American.

ISO and the demonization of Syria

At the very moment when Washington and those who echo the master’s voice are trying to demonize the government of Syria, ISO is trying to do the same thing among left and progressive forces. So they criticize the Syrian government for being “inconsistent” opponents of imperialism and praise the “rebels.”

Let’s take a look at this. The government of Syria has done more to oppose imperialism than ISO will ever do. They help the Palestinians in a big way. Same goes for the patriotic and national democratic forces of Lebanon. Syria, Iran and the movements for national liberation in Lebanon and Palestine are central to the camp of resistance to imperialism and Zionism in the Middle East.

So what does the ISO article have to say about this? According to them not only is Syria an “inconsistent” opponent of imperialism, the article says “the West considers the Syrian regime a precious asset that can assist in maintaining the current hegemonic structure of power in the region, though their preference may be for it to be weakened and thus more subservient.”

The Bush administration used to say that Syria could be considered a part of his ‘Axis of Evil.’ Over the last couple of years Washington has spent over $1 billion to destroy the Syrian government and right now the U.S. is threatening a military attack. Yet in the world that ISO sees, Syria is a “precious asset” of the West. It is hard for serious people to take this kind of analysis seriously.

The point here is not to say that Syria is perfect or socialist or always does the right thing. What is being said is that we should not be joining our rulers in demonizing the Syrian government.

As for the ‘rebels,’ history’s verdict is in. One can debate the nature of the demonstrations against the Syrian government several years ago and what led up to them, but today, right now, the opposition is bought, paid for, and acting on behalf of the U.S. and the most reactionary of Arab regimes.

Anti-imperialism is a good thing

The U.S. has built an empire and that extends into Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and some other places too. It exists to rip off the land, labor and natural resources of others while enriching the elite who run this country. This empire is a grim place, held together by U.S. military power, death squads and puppet governments.

It is positive that there are national liberation movements in places like Colombia and Palestine that are leading powerful movements to break free of imperialism. It is a step forward for the peoples subjugated by U.S. imperialism and they land blows on our common oppressor.

It is also a good thing that there are countries in this world that have left the orbit of imperialism. This includes Syria. It is good for the people of Syria, good for the struggle in the Middle East, and for all of us who want a world without imperialism.

ISO considers it strange that a socialist would take this view. In fact it is ISO that is the odd one out.

We recently reprinted a statement from the Syrian Communist Party, which reads in part, “The defense of Syria’s national regime, which faces, head held high, all methods of aggression, refusing humiliation and submission, means defending the country and its sovereignty and independence.” Frankly this is what the vast majority of revolutionaries around the world think. Check out what Cuba says about Syria or the government of Venezuela. One could go on and on like this but the point is clear enough.

Revolutionaries and socialists need to make a concrete analysis of concrete conditions; this is what Marxism is all about: understanding reality in order to change it. Everything in this world is the product of actual historical processes that we can know about, if we bother to study them. This includes Syria.

The ISO uses the opposite approach, which claims the world is what they would like it to be and what they say it is. In their world, the brutal foreign-backed Syrian opposition becomes the Arab revolution. They find progressive forces where they are not, and when forces resisting imperialism have shortcomings – they say that those resisting are the same as the imperialists.

The world never has and never will conform to a bunch of preconceived notions. The anti-war movement deserves something better than the ISO’s armchair critiques.

The people of Syria, the peoples of the world and the people of the U.S. face a vicious enemy that will go to any length to maintain its power and privilege. Building an anti-war movement under slogans like “Hands off Syria” and “No war with Syria” is the best way that people in this country can help to defeat U.S. imperialism’s attempt to dominate the Middle East. Washington is isolated right now. People don’t want another U.S. war. Together we can win.

Communists Worldwide Oppose Attacks on Syria

Source

We, the communist and workers’ parties, express our solidarity with the Syrian people and denounce the military attack against Syria which is being prepared by the imperialists of the USA, NATO and the EU together with their allies in order to promote their interests in the region.

We reject the pretexts of the imperialists which, as was demonstrated, were also used in the war against Iraq and in the other imperialist wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya.

We call on the working class, the peoples all over the world to oppose and condemn the new imperialist war, to demand that the governments of their countries have no involvement in and do not support the criminal military offensive.

29/8/2013

  1. Communist Party of Albania
  2. Algerian Party For Democracy And Socialism
  3. Communist Party of Australia
  4. Communist Party of Azerbaidjan
  5. Democratic, Progressive Tribune, Bahrain
  6. Communist Party of Bangladesh
  7. Communist Party Of Belarus
  8. Communist Party of Workers of Belarus
  9. Workers’ Party of Belgium
  10. Communist Party of Belgium (Wallonia-Brussels)
  11. Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia
  12. Communist Party of Brazil
  13. Brazilian Communist Party
  14. Communist Party of Britain
  15. New Communist Party of Britain
  16. Communist Party of Canada
  17. Communist Party of Chile
  18. Communist Party of Cuba
  19. The Progressive Party of the Working People – AKEL, Cyprus
  20. Communist Party of Denmark
  21. Communist Party in Denmark
  22. Danish Communist Party
  23. Communist Party of Finland
  24. Communist Workers’ Party of Finland
  25. Pole of Communist Revival, France
  26. URCF (France)
  27. Galician People’s Union, Spain
  28. Unified Communist Party of Georgia
  29. German Communist Party (DKP)
  30. Communist Party of Greece
  31. Hungarian Workers’ Party
  32. Tudeh Party of Iran
  33. Communist Party of Ireland
  34. The Workers Party of Ireland
  35. Communist Party of Israel
  36. Party of the Italian Communists
  37. Communists People’s Left-Communist Party, Italy
  38. Activist Group Shiso-Undo, Japan
  39. Jordanian Communist Party
  40. Socialist Party of Latvia
  41. Socialist People’s Front of Lithuania
  42. Communist Party of Luxembourg
  43. Communist Party of Malta
  44. Communist Party of Mexico
  45. Partido Socialista APN, Mexico
  46. People’s Resistance, Moldova
  47. New Communist Party of the Netherlands
  48. Communist Party of Norway
  49. Communist Party of Pakistan
  50. Palestinian Communist Party
  51. Palestinian People’s Party
  52. Philippine Communist Party [PKP-1930]
  53. Communist Party of Poland
  54. Portuguese Communist Party
  55. Communist Party of the Russian Federation
  56. Communist Workers’ Party of Russia
  57. Communist Party of Soviet Union
  58. New Communist Party of Yugoslavia
  59. Communist Party of Slovakia
  60. Communist Party of Spain
  61. Communist Party of the People of Spain
  62. Sudanese Communist Party
  63. Communist Party, Sweden
  64. Communist Party of Sweden
  65. Communist Party of Southern Switzerland (federate to Swiss Labour Party)
  66. Syrian Communist Party
  67. Syrian Communist Party [Unified]
  68. Communist Party of Tadjikistan
  69. Communist Party of Turkey
  70. Labour Party of Turkey (EMEP)
  71. Communist Party of Ukraine
  72. Union of Communists of Ukraine
  73. Communist Party of Venezuela
  74. Party for Socialism and Liberation (USA)
  75. CPUSA
  76. Freedom Road Socialist Organization (USA)
  77. Workers World Party (USA)

DPRK Foreign Policy Promotes Peace

Ri Hyon Do

The Korean Peninsula is the focus of the world’s attention. It is because the Peninsula is fraught with the biggest danger of war. There exists neither a mechanism nor an agreement with binding force to prevent war.

The Korean armistice agreement has already been scrapped.

Since the Peninsula was bisected into the north and south, peace has been maintained there for over half a century. But it was an unstable peace on the eve of nuclear war and in an acute confrontation between the DPRK and the U.S.

It was a fortune that the touch-and-go situation has not been turned to a war as international analysts predicted.

Then what keeps the tense situation from being converted into war?

It is the invariable peace policy of the DPRK.

The DPRK has made sincere efforts to put an end to ceasefire and achieve peace on the Peninsula.

At the Geneva talks held in 1954 for peaceful settlement of the Korean issue the DPRK government advanced a concrete proposal to pull out all foreign forces from the Peninsula in accordance with the armistice agreement and bring about peace and peaceful reunification.

It did its best to reach even a principled agreement to the minimum when the talks faced rupture.
After disrupting the Geneva talks intentionally the U.S. continued to beef up its forces in south Korea, but the DPRK government reduced the troops of the Korean People’s Army by a large margin and took a measure to withdraw the Chinese People’s Volunteers.

The 3rd Session of the 5th Supreme People’s Assembly in March 1974 proposed holding talks between the DPRK and the U.S. to agree non-aggression, stop introducing all kinds of weapons, operation equipment and war materials from the outside of boundary of Korea, withdraw all foreign troops from south Korea and disallow the Korean Peninsula to be used as foreign military base or operation base.

In January 1984 the DPRK government advanced a peace package to hold tripartite talks involving the DPRK, the U.S. and the south Korean authorities for concluding a peace agreement between the DPRK and the U.S. and adopting a declaration of non-aggression between the north and the south of Korea and also set forth disarmament proposals containing detailed measures for peace on the Peninsula.

In April 1994 too, the DPRK government put forward a proposal to set up a new peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula.

It also proposed concluding a tentative agreement between the DPRK and the U.S. replacing the armistice agreement to remove armed conflict and war danger and maintain peace on the Peninsula till a complete peace agreement is concluded.

Thanks to our positive efforts, general-level talks of the DPRK and U.S. military took place at Panmunjom to form a new armistice management organization on the Korean Peninsula.
In the latter half of the 1990s the issue on establishing a lasting peace mechanism on the Peninsula was discussed between the DPRK and the U.S. and at the quadripartite talks between the DPRK, the U.S., China and south Korea.

At the talks the DPRK government, proceeding from its will to achieve actual peace on the Peninsula, consistently proposed an issue on withdrawing the U.S. troops from south Korea and signing a peace agreement between the DPRK and the U.S.

Our fair and aboveboard peace proposals were unanimously supported by the progressives of the world.

The DPRK has made ceaseless efforts for peace in the new century too.

Despite our sincere efforts, however, the Korean Peninsula does not yet witness a lasting peace entirely because of the U.S. dishonest attitude to our proposal.

If the U.S. had accepted any one of our fair proposals, a lasting peace would have settled on the Peninsula.

It is a steadfast stand of the DPRK to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia and the rest of the world. In the future the DPRK will maintain a firmer stand to defend stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula and contribute to global peace.

Bangladesh in Turmoil

Islamist upsurge threatens women, workers and minorities

Workers Hammer

For some months, Bangladesh has been in the throes of a general political crisis, with Islamic fundamentalists staging mass mobilisations against the government. In early May, Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest fundamentalist organisation in the country, mobilised its supporters to converge on the capital in what they called “Siege Dhaka”. Hefazat-e-Islam, an outfit that was born in opposition to a proposal to give women equal rights to inherit, is putting forward a 13-point programme. Among other things it calls for execution as the penalty for “insulting Islam”, a ban on intermingling of men and women and an end to “shameless behaviour and dress”. This reactionary upsurge is an ominous threat to the working class, the oppressed and above all to women.

Jamaat supporters are enraged by the ongoing trials of its leaders, who are accused of atrocities that were committed against the Bangladeshi population at the time of independence from Pakistan in 1971. The revolt of the Bengali-speaking population led by the Awami League met ferocious repression by the Pakistani oppressor. Pakistan’s military laid siege to Bengali areas and carried out a mass slaughter. Estimates of the numbers killed vary widely, but a commonly cited figure in Bangladesh is three million. Some ten million Hindus became refugees, many fleeing to India. The number of women raped by the Pakistani army and paramilitary units is estimated at tens of thousands.

The Pakistani side was supported by Jamaat-e-Islami, which actively opposed independence for Bangladesh. Its cadres participated in paramilitary units such as the Razakars (roughly, “collaborators”) who colluded with the Pakistani troops in carrying out terrible crimes against the Bangladeshi population. Following independence, Jamaat and other organisations who had sided with Pakistan were widely hated in Bangladesh and were banned by the ruling Awami League. In 1973 the government decided to try collaborators for war crimes, but it later backtracked and declared an amnesty, releasing all suspects.

Over time, however, the political bankruptcy of the Awami League paved the way for the forces of political Islam to re-emerge as a force in the country. A key factor was the utter inability of the bourgeois nationalists to free the masses from extreme poverty. This was evident as early as 1974 by which time Bangladesh faced disastrous famine and floods. The venal and corrupt Awami League had lost popular support. It was overthrown in a military coup in 1975 that assassinated its leader, Mujibur Rahman (Mujib), and killed 40 members of his family — all but two daughters, one of whom is Sheikh Hasina, the current party leader and prime minister. The military coup brought General Ziaur Rahman to power, who welcomed Jamaat back to Bangladesh. He also founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The country was run for years by military dictatorship, followed since the 1990s by rotating Awami League- or BNP-led governments.

But since 1971 the perpetrators of atrocities continued to walk free in Bangladesh — and other countries, including Britain, which gave many of them a warm welcome — and the issue festered. To capitalise on popular anger over the issue, in the run-up to the 2008 elections Sheikh Hasina revived the proposal to try those accused of war crimes. This was a cynical manoeuvre by a corruption-ridden party to refurbish its credentials as the party that led the independence struggle. Following a landslide election victory for the Awami League, the long-delayed war crimes proceedings began in 2010. Foremost among those accused are leaders of Jamaat.

Last December, before any verdicts were announced, Jamaat organised a general strike in protest against the trials. On 5 February Abdul Quader Mollah, assistant general secretary of Jamaat, was convicted of complicity in rape and mass murder and sentenced to life in prison. On 28 February, Delwar Hossain Sayedee, vice president of Jamaat and a former Member of Parliament, was sentenced to death, as was Muhammad Kumaru Zaman on 9 May. With each conviction, the Islamists orchestrated mob rampages against not only the government but also the oppressed Hindus. After Sayedee was sentenced to death, his supporters attacked Hindu villages, damaging more than 50 temples and destroying more than 1500 houses in nearly 20 districts. Hindus were forced to flee with their families and continue to live in fear. Buddhist temples and statues were also damaged, notably near the southern city of Chittagong where the Islamists are strong.

The howling by the fundamentalists for the death penalty for “insulting Islam” is aimed at the pro-secular demonstrations that began on 5 February at Shahbagh, a major intersection in the capital near Dhaka University. Thousands of young people gathered, demanding that the government take tougher action against the fundamentalists. Among the demands raised were a ban on Jamaat, an end to funding of religious schools and hospitals and a boycott of the banks run by Islamic organisations. In defiance of the Islamists, women mingled with men while students, young people and secular writers and artists joined in. The protests grew in size and continued over many days, eventually growing to two hundred thousand, the largest that Bangladesh has seen for decades. The Bangladesh flag was prominent in the protests, showing widespread illusions in “secular” Bangladeshi nationalism as the solution to fundamentalism.

The “atheist bloggers” who were identified with these protests have been targeted for murderous violence by the Islamists: on 14 January, 29-year-old blogger Asif Mohiuddin, who had been hounded by Islamic reactionaries, was stabbed and seriously injured. A month later, the well-known “atheist blogger”, Ahmed Rajib Haider, who had been threatened by pro-Jamaat activists, was found dead with his throat slit. When the tribunal passed down the life sentence for Quader Mollah, the Shahbagh protesters thought it was too lenient and demanded the death penalty. They fear that the people who are being convicted will walk free if the BNP wins the election, which is due within a year. There are also well-founded fears that Hasina could cut a deal with the Islamic fundamentalists, whom she has repeatedly conciliated in the past.

In 2006, Hasina signed an electoral pact with Khelafat Majlish in which she agreed that, if elected with the help of these fundamentalists, the Awami League would enact a blasphemy law and give legal backing to fatwas. The charge of blasphemy has increasingly been used by fundamentalists in Pakistan, and in Egypt when President Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was in office, to inflict murderous violence on impoverished Christians of both countries. Even without a blasphemy law, Hasina’s government had no qualms about arresting several bloggers and shutting down web sites for supposedly offending religious sentiment. In April the government announced it would not adopt the anti-blasphemy laws as written. However, in response to their demand for state-sanctioned Sharia law (Islamic religious law), Hasina pledged that: “Our country will be run in keeping with the spirit of the Medina Charter … of our beloved Prophet Mohammad” (The Hindu, 15 April).

Hasina’s grotesque promise to implement a seventh century Islamic charter did nothing to mollify the Islamists. In protest at not getting their full programme adopted, the BNP called for a two-day general strike on 5-6 May. Hefazat and Jamaat supporters unleashed a riot, setting much of Dhaka ablaze. An unknown number were killed in a crackdown before the government regained control. Among those attacked in the rampage by the Islamists was the Communist Party of Bangladesh, whose office was torched. Its members were lucky to escape with their lives.

Women garment workers are key

With the country engulfed in a crisis over the war crimes trials, the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry shocked the country and the world. The Rana Plaza factory building collapse in April annihilated more than 1100 mainly women garment workers. This act of industrial murder showed the real workings of the capitalist market in one of the poorest countries in the world. Some 5000 factories in Bangladesh produce garments for major North American and European brands. The workers toiling in near-slavery in these deathtraps are paid the lowest wages in the world for that industry — as low as $37 (£24) a month, far below subsistence, often working 15-hour shifts.

At the same time, the garment industry is a cornerstone of the country’s economy and the millions of workers in these factories have potential social power. To prevent such power from being unleashed, the local garment bosses, aided by the Awami League government, brutally suppress trade unions, to the point of targeting union activists with murderous violence (see Workers Vanguard no 1023, 3 May). Nevertheless, a number of strikes have swept the industry in recent years. And when news of the Rana Plaza disaster spread, hundreds of thousands of these workers walked out of work and marched on the headquarters of the garment manufacturers’ association demanding “we want execution of the garment factory owners!”

The women who work in these factories are drawn from the villages, where illiteracy rates are high and the influence of religion and anti-woman prejudices are pervasive. For these women, a job in the garment industry opens up the possibility of escaping from the backwardness of village life. The ability of women to find employment in the cities breaks the taboo on mixing with men outside the home and enables women to become financially independent of their families. This fuels a backlash by the Islamists because it undermines the material basis for the traditional village and family hierarchy, within which women are blatantly traded as property. Dowry was prohibited by Bangladeshi law in 1980 but the legislation had little effect and the practice remains widespread. All aspects of personal and family law — regarding marriage, separation and divorce — are religion-based. Muslims are subjected to Islamic law, Christians to laws agreed by Christian churches and Hindus to Hindu codes. Numerous reports have documented an extremely high level of violence against women in Bangladesh. “Sulfuric acid — able to burn through skin, muscle and bone — is thrown on women for various reasons including ‘refusal of marriage offers, rejection of male advances, dowry disputes, domestic fights, property disputes, and even a delayed meal’” (quoted in “Bangladesh: Violence against women”, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 2004). In 2002 the government introduced special laws to stop acid attacks; in 2011 the state restricted the sale of certain kinds of acids in an effort to reduce the number of these gruesome attacks.

Women have most to gain from the overthrow of capitalism in Bangladesh and, as indeed in all of South Asia, they will be a motor force for socialist revolution. The fight for the most basic needs of women — for literacy, education, contraception, an end to forced marriage and a way out of grinding poverty and oppression — requires a struggle to root out the very foundations of capitalist society. In 1994, when Jamaat launched a murderous anti-woman campaign against Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin, we wrote that “Nasrin’s case raises questions far beyond the important democratic issues of women’s rights, freedom of speech and the separation of religion and the state”, questions “that only a revolutionary socialist program can answer”. Our article emphasised that:

“In the Third World countries burdened by centuries-old ‘customs,’ even basic questions of democratic reform can be explosive, not least because women’s subordination in the family has decreed them as the ‘bearers’ of the traditional culture to the next generation. But to unleash the tremendous revolutionary potential of the fight for women’s emancipation requires the leadership of a genuinely communist workers party, armed with a broad new vision of a social order of equality and freedom. The fight for the basic needs of the vast mass of Bangladeshi women — an end to forced marriage and the seclusion of purdah and the veil; freedom from poverty and legal subjugation; the right to an education and decent health care, including abortion and contraception — is an attack on the foundations of the capitalist social order and poses nothing less than socialist revolution”.

— “Women and the Permanent Revolution in Bangladesh”, Women and Revolution no 44, Winter 1994-Spring 1995

When the imams issued a fatwa (religious edict) against Nasrin and put a price on her head, she was hounded out of Bangladesh in 1994 and has remained in exile, forbidden to return home, not only under the BNP government but also under the Awami League. Nasrin’s case is a litmus test of the “secularism” the Awami League (occasionally) espouses, as well as for the left. At the time, the Bangladeshi Left Democratic Front, a coalition of leftist parties tailing the Awami League, condemned Nasrin for making statements against the Koran. Similarly, under a West Bengal government led at the time by the Stalinists of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), she was forced to flee Kolkota. This was a cowardly capitulation to religious obscurantism and a gross betrayal of women on both sides of the Bengal border.

The CPI (M)’s commitment to upholding capitalist class rule in India was brutally clear in 2007 when its cadres joined police in an assault on peasants who were resisting a forced land expropriation in Nandigram, West Bengal. As our Canadian comrades wrote in an article:

“The Nandigram massacre had a precursor in a 1979 massacre of dalit (so-called ‘untouchable’) Hindu refugees from heavily Muslim Bangladesh. These refugees, some 30,000, had tried to settle on the small island of Marichjhapi in the inhospitable terrain of the Sundarbans, but the CPI(M) leaders declared their settlement ‘unauthorized.’ After a starvation blockade led to as many as 1,000 deaths, forcible removal began and hundreds were simply massacred. Settlers were tear-gassed, their huts razed, their fisheries and wells destroyed. As they were driven out of Marichjhapi, over 4,000 families perished.”

— Spartacist Canada no 171, Winter 2011/2012

As opposed to Stalinists — such as the Communist Party of Bangladesh and its Indian counterparts — we Trotskyists fight for the perspective of permanent revolution: the overthrow of imperialist domination through workers revolution, uniting all of the oppressed, including women as well as the mass of toiling peasants, under the leadership of a Leninist party. Such a party will mobilise the social power of the proletariat in a struggle modelled on that of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia.

Religious reaction — a tool of the imperialists

Particularly in the Indian subcontinent, the struggle for women’s liberation, as well as for working-class unity, means combating communalism. In Bangladesh communalism by Muslim bigots is directed against the oppressed Hindu minority, who make up approximately 10 per cent of the population, as well as against Buddhists and the Ahmadiyya Muslims. Communalism is not some inevitable condition of the region, but the legacy of rule by the British imperialists, who used religion to drive a wedge between India’s Hindus and Muslims, diverting their hatred of colonial rule into a communalist slaughter that accompanied the bloody partition of India in 1947. The creation of Pakistan was justified as supposedly providing a home for one “nation” of all Muslims, but this belies the reality. Capitalist rule in Pakistan is based on the domination of the Punjabi ruling class over Pashtuns, Baluchis and other oppressed nationalities.

Bangladesh owes its existence to the mutual hostility between India and Pakistan that resulted from partition. The former East Pakistan achieved independence only when India intervened militarily on the side of the Awami League. India’s intervention had nothing to do with the Bengalis’ legitimate struggle for self-determination, but was undertaken to weaken Pakistan. With the connivance of the Awami League, India took control of the fighting. As we wrote in an article published at the time, “the just struggle of the Bengalis was entirely subordinated and integrated into the interests of the predator India at the expense of the predator Pakistan” (Workers Vanguard no 4, January 1972).

Bangladesh’s claim to secularism, which was written into the country’s first constitution, is a myth. Far from being secular, Bangladeshi nationalism is integrally linked to Muslim religious identity. For the Awami League, in independent Bangladesh “secularism” was defined in opposition to Pakistan and the religious fundamentalists such as Jamaat who had inflicted such brutality on the Bengali-speaking population. On the other hand, Bangladeshi nationalism accepted partition which forcibly divided the Bengali-speaking people along Hindu-Muslim lines. Mujib, the father of Bangladesh, had no hesitation in rebutting accusations that the Awami League was against religion: “The slanderous rumour is being circulated against us that we are not believers in Islam. In reply to this, our position is very clear. We are not believers in the label of Islam. We believe in the Islam of justice. Our Islam is the Islam of the holy and merciful Prophet” (quoted in Religion, Identity & Politics –Essays on Bangladesh, Rafiuddin Ahmed). Mujib’s rhetoric about secularism was useful when it came to harvesting votes from among Bangladesh’s Hindus. But he began to tone it down when he was forced to seek aid from Saudi Arabia when his country was stricken by devastating floods in 1974. Evidently the oil sheiks were not taken in by Mujib’s backpedalling: Saudi Arabia refused to recognise the state of Bangladesh until the day after his assassination in August 1975.

India’s claim to be a secular democracy is also false. The Indian state was founded on Hindu chauvinism and brutal oppression of minorities has been the norm, not only under the avowedly Hindu-supremacist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) but under the Congress Party as well. Congress Party politicians orchestrated violent pogroms against Sikhs in Delhi in 1984. Decades of Congress rule paved the way for the BJP to ride to governmental power on the back of murderous anti-Muslim pogroms. India’s massive military repression against Kashmir, the country’s only majority Muslim state, gives the lie to New Delhi’s claim that it is a secular democracy. Moreover it reinforces the grip of fundamentalists such as Jamaat on Muslims in Pakistan as well as in Kashmir itself.

The resurgence of religious and social reaction seen today in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is an international phenomenon. A key event was the war in Afghanistan waged by reactionary US, British and Saudi-backed Islamic fundamentalists against Soviet military forces that were invited into that country in December 1979. The funding and arming of the anti-Communist Islamic mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s in the service of the Cold War against the Soviet Union gave an enormous boost to Jamaat-e-Islami and many other Islamic insurgents. Capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet Union in1991-92 gave a tremendous boost to the forces of reaction around the world. It was in this context that Hindu chauvinist mobs destroyed the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya in 1992, followed by widespread pogroms against Muslims. In a mirror image of the BJP’s Hindu communalist terror, Muslim fundamentalists in Bangladesh unleashed their wrath against Taslima Nasrin and against the oppressed Hindu minority.

In a recent posting on her blog No Country for Women, Nasrin expressed the hope that Shahbagh “will turn into a positive political movement for a true democracy and a secular state — a state which affirms a strict separation between religion and state, and maintains a uniform civil code, a set of secular laws that are not based on religion, but instead, on equality, and an education system that is secular, scientific, and enlightened” (“Secular Uprising in Bangladesh”, 3 March). Nasrin’s ideal of a democratic, secular Bangladesh can not be realised simply through mobilisations against the fundamentalists. Eruptions of communalist violence, including against Hindus, take place with the complicity of the central government, particularly under the BNP. Furthermore, the oppressive conditions of women in society are deeply rooted in the structure of capitalist society in neocolonial Bangladesh.

As Marxists we know that pogroms and explosions of communalism have to be ruthlessly suppressed. But the capitalist rulers are incapable of defeating the forces of political Islam. In the subcontinent, the relatively small but strategic proletariat of each country is the social force that can crush the communalists — by carrying out a socialist revolution. The working class of each country is divided by caste, religion and ethnicity. A revolutionary Marxist leadership must be forged in the fight for proletarian unity and class independence across national and religious lines. The class-conscious proletariat must take up the struggle for the emancipation of women and place itself at the head of all the oppressed, winning the rural masses to its side in a fight to overthrow the landlords and capitalists.

Proletarian socialist revolution — spread throughout South Asia and extended to the imperialist centres — can develop the productive forces on a vast scale. Eliminating scarcity will lay the material basis for freeing the masses from the yoke of religion, of caste, and for the liberation of women. What is necessary is the forging of Leninist-Trotskyist vanguard parties dedicated to the overthrow of capitalist rule in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.