Imperialism and Socialism in the 21st Century

Part One – The Historical Legacy of the Great October Socialist Revolution

Don Currie - Chair CPS

June 15, 2007

“Marxism’s call to revolutionary actions was music to the ears of a freedom fighter. The idea that history progresses through struggle and change occurs in revolutionary jumps was similarly appealing. In my readings of Marxist works, I found a great deal of information that bore on the type of problems that face a practical politician. Marxists gave serious attention to the national liberation movements and the Soviet Union in particular supported the national struggles of many colonial peoples. This was another reason why I amended my view of Communists and accepted the ANC position of welcoming Marxists into its ranks.”

Nelson Mandela, “Long Walk to Freedom” page 105. Little Brown and Company

The 90th Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution will be celebrated around the world on November 7th. 2007. Much will be written and said that is both inspiring and bitter. The vast imperialist network of ideological and theoretical disinformation is already at work on a renewed anti-communist, anti-Soviet, anti-socialist   campaign. The international Communist movement is bracing for the onslaught and preparing its counter-offensive. The work began at the Lisbon Conference of Communist and Workers Parties last November that called upon all Communist Parties to organize meetings and seminars, to develop contemporary analyses of the revolutionary significance of the October Revolution for the struggle for socialism in the 21st Century.

The Main Resolution and the documents of the Lisbon Conference of the International Communist and Workers Parties warn of the resurgence of anti-communism and the danger it poses to democracy and human progress and calls for a sharp struggle against it.  Anti-communism is the world view of finance capital and the private owners of the means production. It is the ideology of the exploiters of the labouring masses and as a theory, is the method used to emasculate the crimes against humanity and nature, the predation and wars, the dehumanizing role and the reactionary essence of the practice of imperialism.

The answer to anti-communism is the world outlook of the working class, scientific revolutionary socialism. The struggle between the two world views is irreconcilable, is epochal and resolvable only in the world wide victory of socialism. Consistent partisanship for the sum total of the historic experience of the struggle of the working class for socialism is the minimum required of each and every Communist. Communists concede nothing to the anti-communist revision of working class history. The working class creates its own history in struggle and it will decide what is relevant and what is to be learned from that history. Imperialist ideologists, theorists and apologists have nothing to teach Marxism.

Wresting the Great October Socialist Revolution from the Anti-Communist Detractors.

Since the counter revolutionary undermining and fall of the Soviet Union and the European Socialist system of states in 1989-93, anti-communist analyses and theories have dominated public discourse on those tragic events. The purpose is to discredit the historic achievements of the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1990 and the post war achievements of the East European Socialist states that arose after the defeat of Hitler fascism in 1945. It is also designed to cast doubt on the sacrifices of the hundreds of millions of Communists and pro-Soviet forces that stood in international solidarity with the USSR from its founding.  

Today, the democratic left is virtually unanimous in identifying the reactionary role of US imperialism spanning the period of WW1 to the present. However, there is no such unanimity in according to the Soviet Union the leading progressive role during the same period.  The political sanctuary for all those who either reject or evade identifying with the historically progressive role of the Soviet Union is the two superpower theory. The two superpower theory rejects the Leninist definition of imperialism as the final stage of capitalism. It also rejects the class struggle, the law governed revolutionary historical response of the international working class and its allies destined to replace imperialism with a new stage in human development, revolutionary socialism.

The two superpower theory defines imperialism as a policy not a system. This centrist theory is the excuse used by all anti-Sovietism to gloss over and in the final analysis absolve imperialism of its primary responsibility for fomenting the major wars, aggressions, occupations, regime changes and counter revolutionary atrocities of the epoch.  And more deplorable than that, it trivializes the enormous sacrifices of the Soviet people and their Government that for seven decades provided selfless and steadfast support to the anti-imperialist struggles of the people of the world.

Anti-Sovietism – Prototype for Modern Anti-Socialism

Imperialist hostility to the Soviet Union is the prototype for the hostility that continues today against the remaining and newly emerging socialist states and with the same aim, their undermining and fall and the restoration of capitalism. The attack on the Soviet form of socialism was from its inception and continues to be, an attack on revolutionary socialism wherever it arises, in all of its forms and in all of its stages of development. From that standpoint, it is impossible to be anti-Soviet and a consistent internationalist and revolutionary socialist.

The reactionary attack on the legacy of the Soviet form of socialism is comprehensive having as its main goal the separation of the Russian working class from its own creation, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Soviet state, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the socialist form of government. The reactionary attack on Soviet experience is designed to dissuade and intimidate the labouring masses everywhere from embracing the idea of political independence from capitalism in any form.

The Significance of the Emergence of the Soviet Union

The left abounds with critiques and exposures of capitalism, but breaks up in confusion, when it comes to the question of how to replace it. The Bolshevik Revolution answered in practice the question of how to replace capitalism confirmed by all subsequent revolutions, i.e. the necessity of the establishment of working class power. The Soviet Union was the first decisive break of the international working class, allied with the peasant masses, from the capitalist system and is the historical genesis of all subsequent revolutionary advances in the imperialist era. Soviet power marked the beginning of the world-wide process of socialist revolution that has not stopped and continues into the 21st Century. Soviet power was neither a failed experiment, nor an historical anomaly. It was and remains the decisive and fatal blow of the international working class directed at imperialism. The Soviet Union haunts imperialism and all of its supporters with the realization of their historical redundancy. Soviet socialist power towers over history as no other state in the modern era.

Soviet power lives in the hearts and minds of socialist revolutionaries because from its inception it defended all of global humanity by defying imperialism and absorbing the brunt of its counter-revolutionary onslaught in all of its forms ranging from civil war, terrorism, sabotage, economic boycott, and finally outright imperialist war in the form of Hitler fascism.

The Significance of the Soviet Defeat of Nazism.

The contribution of the Soviet Union to the defeat of Hitler fascism altered the course of history. The Soviet exploit in defeating Hitler is imperishable because it was the decisive factor in preventing imperialism from imposing a dark age of open dictatorial rule of the most aggressive sections of finance capital in all developed capitalist states. The defeat of Hitler fascism and its allies opened up the possibility of more people taking the socialist path, of weakening neo-colonialism and enabling the working class of the advanced capitalist countries to retain those aspects of bourgeois democracy that has enabled it to win concessions from the capitalist classes and state.

The Soviet Union and the People’s Democracies together with the international peace movement were decisive in forcing the imperialist states to accept the idea and its embodiment in the United Nations Charter of the possibility of international cooperation between states of differing social systems to ban world war and in particular nuclear war. All imperialist efforts to expunge the hopes of humanity for world peace and international cooperation from the community of nations have thus far failed. Soviet exploits in the defeat of fascism continues to influence many non-belligerent capitalist states including the current Russian regime compelled to confront US imperialism and its attempts to rekindle the nuclear arms race.

The Soviet defeat of Hitler will outlive all of the current attempts to distort and obscure its progressive impact on world history. The legacy of the Soviet foreign policy of peace,  internationalism and revolutionary partisanship, lives on in the socialist states of today that are evolving new and original forms of socialist cooperation and anti-imperialist solidarity with people’s everywhere who struggle for world peace, the health of the planet and the emancipation of humankind from imperialism.

The Cold War and Soviet Power

The emergence of the European system of socialist states, following the defeat of Hitler widened and deepened the break with the imperialist system and compelled the imperialist states to reconsider the forms of its attack on socialism. The period of the post-war struggle of two systems, the socialist headed by the Soviet Union and imperialist led by the USA, dubbed the cold war, imposed a debilitating nuclear arms race on socialism and a heavy burden of political, economic and military responsibility to defend socialism while at the same time avoiding nuclear war.

The Soviet Union was called upon to politically, economically and militarily support anti-imperialist struggles and provide economic support to newly emerging independent former colonial states. In addition to its internationalist duties, Soviet and European socialism confronted the daunting task of overcoming the devastating human and economic setbacks of WW2 and to fulfill the rising expectations of their own working people who had sacrificed so much to defeat fascism and maintain their socialist gains.

US Imperialist Power, NATO and the Struggle for Peace

The leading imperialist state the United States emerged from WW2 at the peak of its power, possessing enormous military and economic power. It proceeded to indoctrinate its people and the non-socialist world in the spirit of what it believed was its imperial prerogative to dictate global developments. The United States from the moment of the launching of the cold war by Winston Churchill in 1947 at Fulton Missouri, gave full scope to what had been during the war a covert form of anti-communist treachery.

US imperialism assigned enormous military, economic, political and ideological assets to undermine Soviet power and the European Socialist system of states. To achieve the defeat of Soviet power the US contrary to all of the post-war agreements reached at Potsdam and Yalta re-armed Germany. US imperialism and its allies, began the projection of its military power through a world wide network of foreign military bases. The bases, remote from US territory, surrounded the Soviet Union and the Socialist states with nuclear weapons and a variety of means of long range delivery. That system of military bases continues to this day and constitutes the main cause of international instability, tension and war.

The organization of NATO had a two-fold purpose, to position overwhelming military forces capable of destroying the Soviet Union and the Socialist states, and to intimidate the masses of the capitalist states attracted to the ideas and achievements of socialism. The threat of nuclear war in Europe dominated international politics for decades and it was only due to the presence of the Warsaw Pact and the rise of a powerful international peace movement that prevented nuclear war and compelled the imperialist powers to engage in negotiations and agreements to limit the testing, development and deployment of strategic nuclear weapons.

World wide demands for peace and nuclear disarmament did not deter US imperialism from its impulse to destroy socialism. Even as it claimed to support détente US imperialism continued its policy of mobilizing anti-communist forces to undermine socialism. With Nazi atrocities fresh in the minds of all Europeans, the US sanctioned the recruitment of Nazi collaborators to its scientific and technological military industrial complex, installed many of the defeated pro-fascist forces to European governments, recruited Hitlerite Generals to NATO posts, and incited the pro-fascist nationalist, racist, feudal and latent capitalist forces still living with hostility and hope inside the Soviet Union and European socialist states.

The Forces of Counter Revolution

It is becoming clearer as time goes on that imperialism’s reach during the cold war extended into the ranks of the ruling Communist Parties and the socialist states. It is not relevant to speculate if such elements were imperialist agents or the weak and disenchanted, declassed and corrupted, ambitious for personal wealth and power. Such revelations wait another time.

The hard fact is that those forces were the indispensable fifth column that over an extended period, abused positions of trust that disarmed the socialist masses ideologically, spiritually and politically and corrupted socialist governance into its opposite, a system infected with nepotism and elitist privilege. Even more culpable are those who held political power claiming to be Communists, who lapsed into states of tolerance and benign neglect of the obvious signs of stagnation and deviation from the laws and norms of socialist economic development. These are the forces responsible for the loss of a dynamic revolutionary engagement of the socialist masses in the affairs of economic planning and the building of a socialist society.

There were other forces, such as the brief period of the leadership of Yuri Andropov and his supporters, who were conscious of the urgent need to overcome manifestations of parasitism and to rekindle the revolutionary spirit of the masses in building socialism. Why they did not prevail and become dominant is not possible to know but does illustrate the absolute vital role that Marxist Leninist revolutionary vigilance accompanied by vigorous Communist polemics plays in reaching the best of all decisions as to how to mobilize the creative power of the people to move forward. Above it illustrates the absolute necessity of the Communist Parties, once in power, to trust the labouring masses, rely on them, learn from them, give full scope to their revolutionary ardor and to combat with all energy all manifestations of notions of leadership infallibility. 

The Economic Basis of Counter Revolution

Counter revolution in its broadest definition is reaction of the old defeated classes against the power of the new ascendant and victorious revolutionary classes. It is a phenomenon of all revolutionary experience. How it is dealt with by the victorious revolutionary classes merits serious study to discover the laws that govern its development and that enable the socialist forces to defeat attempts to restore the old order.

Counter revolution is not limited to the immediate hostile reaction of the deposed and overthrown classes supported by their external imperialist allies. Counter revolution can also assume the form of a long political process evolving and extending over time. It includes careerism, political ambition and the creation of self serving forms of non-socialist economic systems that live parasitically on the host socialist system. In the Soviet Union these forces were culpable for having used a moral malaise of their own making, an underground market economy, to discredit socialism and lay the basis for the counter revolutionary restoration of capitalism.

Elitist privilege and moral degradation is not yet capitalism. What the corrupt social strata could not do, as an act of will, was to restore the public, socialist ownership of the means of production to private ownership and control. For that to happen they had to first appear as socialist reformers to justify the use of counter revolutionary force, and then, after seizing key levers of power and surrounding themselves with their corrupt and corruptible supporters, reveal their real program of capitalist restoration. While the gestation period of counter-revolution was long, the seizure of public assets was swift and ruthless as the oligarchs protected their theft with armed criminal gangs.

Throughout this counter-revolutionary process, the Leninist forces were marginalized by neo-Marxist revisionist theories that accused them of orthodoxy, of being inflexible and intolerant of social democratic ideology, not fully appreciating the benefits of capitalist democracy and the cornucopia of what a reformed socialist market economy was sure to provide to all. One need only go back to the period of Glasnost and Perestroika and read Soviet journals of that time to see so-called communist reformers militantly carrying the banner of “renewal” straight into the arms of capitalism. The neo-Marxist reformers deemed the ideological struggle itself obsolete as socialist theory evolved into a capitalist-socialist hybrid where theoretical choice superseded theoretical partisanship, where individual wealth appropriation by any means other than collective socialist labour was given the aura of a supreme human right as the collective rights of the Soviet people were systematically undermined.

The counter revolution with the support and encouragement of the economic and political power of foreign imperialism moved swiftly. The Communist Party was outlawed and its assets seized. The USSR was dissolved in spite of nearly 70% popular support for its retention. Latent nationalist and corrupted political forces began to plunder and illegally privatize and re-distribute public wealth into private hands and the once mighty Soviet commonwealth broke up and foreign imperialist financiers moved in. Capitalist anarchy prevailed. The content of Russian politics since the fall of Soviet power has been the struggle between anarchic mafia capitalism and state capitalist forces that are attempting to establish a legal framework for the exploitation of the Russian working class and to fend off the attempts of foreign mainly US finance capital competitors to appropriate the energy resources and dominate the markets of the former Soviet Union.

The popular version of the causes leading to the undermining of socialist state power in Europe is based on the fiction that it was due exclusively to internal problems and mistakes by the Communist parties and not primarily the result of an epoch of imperialist counter-revolutionary wars, capitalist economic boycotts and finance capitalist animosity towards socialism in collaboration with internal counter revolutionary forces. The work of anti-communist revisionist theorists is to attempt to create a new context for history that absolves imperialism of its reactionary role, to render it blameless for its anti-socialist crimes and its blind hatred of the attempt of Soviet and European Socialist power to build non-capitalist societies. 

The Purpose of Counter-Revolutionary Theory 

The purpose of the counter-revolutionary ideological and theoretical assault on the experience of real socialism is to perpetuate an uncritical mass acceptance of anti-communism including its most violent forms of physical, psychological and legalistic terror. Anti-communism has not been replaced by the war on terrorism as the world outlook of imperialism. Terrorism does not threaten the capitalist system. Socialism does. The imperialist attack on real socialism in all of its various forms and stages of development as exemplified today by the People’s Republic of China, the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, the Republic of Cuba and the Venezuelan and Bolivian Bolivarian revolutions is a continuation of the anti-Soviet onslaught during all of the various stages of its development from 1917 to 1990.

The imperialist attack on 21st Century socialism cannot be successfully combated by emphasizing what the Soviet form of socialism failed to achieve, as though the form of socialism was the cause of its demise. One might just as well talk endlessly about the shortcomings of all of the current forms of socialism as the cause of its many difficulties and shortcomings. We are invited to do that everyday by the capitalist media.

The centre-piece of the falsification of the experience of the working people of the Soviet and European socialist states is to cast doubt on working class support for the leading role of the Communist Parties of Europe and the science of Marxism Leninism, Dialectical and Historical Materialism and in particular Lenin’s thesis on Imperialism on which the Communists relied as a guide in rallying all working people in the development of the domestic economic, social and international foreign policies of socialism.

The Continuing Influence of Soviet Power on Modern Politics

The power and example of the Soviet form of socialism continues to strike fear in the exploiters and ruling elites of all continents. The imperialists have tasked their theoretical and ideological minions to explain to workers, the exploited and the poor, why it was all a mistake for the Soviet and the Eastern European people to have dreamed of and attempted to build their own societies free of fascist, feudal and capitalist domination and control.

Precisely because it was the first socialist state, and its pioneer builders earnestly searched for and began to discover the objective laws governing the development of socialism, it is vital that anyone claiming to be a revolutionary socialist study with the utmost objectivity and rigour, the Soviet and East European Socialist experience.

Part Two – Imperialism Defined.