Archive for the Lenin Category

91st Death Anni. of Lenin Commemorated on Red Square [CRIEnglish]

Posted in Lenin, Russia, USSR on March 26, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Web Editor: Wang Wei

Communist supporters hold portraits of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin during a wreath laying ceremony to Lenin’s mausoleum on Moscow’s Red Square, January 21, 2015. Communists gathered on Wednesday to commemorate the 91st death anniversary of Lenin. [Photo: CFP/Sergei Karpukhin]

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Ukraine crisis sets back NATO’s eastward advance [Workers World]

Posted in Fascism, Lenin, NATO, Pentagon, Russia, State Department, Ukraine, US imperialism, USA, USSR on March 27, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Fred Goldstein on March 20, 2014

* Strategic blow to Pentagon in Crimea *

March 19 — The overwhelming, popular turnout of the Crimean masses who affirmed their decision to separate from the Kiev coup regime in Ukraine and associate with Russia is the first great setback for the U.S. and NATO in their 15-year march to the East.

This constitutes a turning point in the international situation. The irresistibly expansionist imperialist establishment in Washington has engaged Russia in a direct confrontation by seizing control of the Ukrainian government.

The Russian nationalist Putin regime of counterrevolutionary oligarchs is no answer to the problems of the masses of people in Crimea or the workers and farmers in Ukraine. The workers’ organizations and the communists must retain their class independence in this struggle, promote class solidarity and be careful not to fall prey to Great Russian chauvinism or bourgeois nationalism.

But at the same time, they should oppose any victory for Washington’s war drive in the region, which is the greatest danger.

Since the fall of the USSR and Eastern Europe, NATO has swallowed nine countries from the former socialist camp in Eastern Europe and three formerly Soviet Baltic republics. This expansion toward Russia’s borders has taken place in steps, with little resistance.

In NATO’s march to the East — a march to encircle Russia on its western border — the seizure of Ukraine was a final and decisive step. But the militarists and expansionists in the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department forgot what the actual relationship of forces was on the ground.

They seem to have forgotten that Russia has a powerful military, including nuclear weapons and a large army. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and other neocons and right-wingers in Washington who were running the Ukraine operation were so narrowly focused on grabbing political power that they disregarded the history of Ukraine. They mistook the pro-imperialist oligarchs and Ukrainian nationalists in Kiev, Lviv and other parts of western Ukraine for the entire country.

* Washington underestimated Ukrainian masses *

Above all, they never foresaw the possibility of the intervention of the Ukrainian masses, particularly in Crimea and the eastern and southern parts of the country. They seem not to have noticed all the statues of Lenin, streets named after communists and monuments to the victories over fascism. Even the counterrevolutionary Ukrainian oligarchs had not dared to take them down.

After years of Washington and NATO running completely roughshod over country after country in the former socialist camp, this is their first land grab that has run into the dual resistance of the local population and the Russian state.

Washington gained its objective in Kiev by political subversion and by mobilizing fascist forces for the overthrow of the legally elected government, headed by Viktor Yanukovych. It then installed an unelected puppet government and gained political control of Kiev.

But with the seizure of the government of Ukraine in Kiev by Washington and its junior partners in the European Union, quantity has turned into quality. The imperialists in Washington have plunged across a red line and been caught flat-footed by the swift and forceful response they received, especially in Crimea.

Washington suffered a humiliating rebuff by the massive democratic turnout in Crimea. The U.S. warnings to Russia against federating with Crimea were demonstrably futile and ineffectual. And to make matters worse for them, the unelected puppet regime in Kiev has not been able to establish its authority, as shown by growing unrest and resistance in large and key industrial sections of the country in the east and the south.

To be sure, the U.S. and the EU still have the stronghold of Kiev, fortified by the fascists in the Svoboda Party and the Right Sector. This is just the first battle in a war which will be filled with future political, economic and military twists and turns that cannot be foreseen.

* Pentagon wanted to oust Russian navy from Crimea *

A measure of the setback, particularly for the Pentagon, can be seen in the howls and cries of the capitalist politicians over Crimea’s federation with Russia and the swiftness and decisiveness with which this was accomplished.

The howling seems truly disproportionate — but only if you leave out the fact that pushing the Russian Black Sea Fleet out of Sebastopol was a prime strategic objective of the Pentagon. The hope was that by capturing the regime in Kiev, it would become possible to invalidate the lease under which the Russian fleet is stationed there.

Much attention has been rightfully focused on the U.S. goal of bringing NATO into Ukraine. But little has been said about the desire of the U.S. high command to push the Russian navy out of Crimea. The base at Sebastopol is Russia’s only warm-water port and is its strategic entry to the Mediterranean and Syria as well as Iran…

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90 years after death, Lenin’s contributions appreciated [Workers World]

Posted in Anti-communism, Engels, Lenin, Marx, Russia, USSR on February 11, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By John Catalinotto on January 31, 2014

Lenin is the recognized leader of the political party that directed the working-class’s seizure of state power in Russia in the fall of 1917. For the first time in history, a subject class was placed at the head of society.

Lenin had built the Bolshevik Party, later the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and he was the architect setting up the framework of the new multinational state of many peoples, stretching from Eastern Europe to Siberia, from the Arctic Sea to Central Asia.

Lenin, whose real name was Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov, died from a stroke at the age of 53 on Jan. 21, 1924 — 90 years ago. We know that no revolution can be the work of a single individual. Tens of millions of human beings whose life conditions drive them to understand the need to struggle and sacrifice need to participate and cooperate to bring such a revolution about. More than any other single individual, however, Lenin was responsible for the workers’ victory in Russia.

This revolution and the Soviet state aided, inspired and supported the uprisings that liberated many of the oppressed countries from imperialism and workers from exploitation during the 20th century. The USSR, a product of the 1917 revolution, was the greatest nightmare for the imperialist ruling class. For that reason, the bankers, billionaires and their paid propagandists made the Soviet Union a pariah state and hated Lenin more than any other single individual in history. To this day, he remains the number one historical enemy of the rich.

At the same time, Lenin remains a beacon for those who want to struggle. This is especially true for revolutionaries living in the industrialized and urbanized countries that are part of the imperialist world and where the masses most often live in cities. They want to construct a framework to facilitate a revolution that overthrows capitalism and starts to build a new world where exploitation and inequality are eliminated.

Lenin’s contributions to revolutionary history are rich. Others will undoubtedly make their own additions to the four lessons listed here, which remain essential to carrying out class struggle in the 21st century:

Lenin’s analysis of world imperialism, written during World War I, underlined the inevitability of the drive toward war and conquest growing out of the capitalist system when it had become a worldwide phenomenon.

Lenin’s analysis of the “national question” and how communists should relate to the struggle of peoples and nations for self-determination, including independence, united the communists and the movements for liberation throughout the colonial world.

Lenin’s approach to organizing a working-class party. He outlined this in his 1901 pamphlet, “What Is to Be Done,” and carried it out through the 1917 revolution and beyond. Lenin’s work was specific to the reality of Czarist Russia of that period, but the principles he laid out for creating a party that is an instrument of effective working-class struggle have remained intact since.

Lenin extended Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ analysis of the capitalist state in his work, “State and Revolution,” which he wrote in August and September of 1917 while forced into hiding. The imperialist states have grown even more weaponized and bureaucratic since that day, as have the capitalist states in Asia, Africa and Latin America. This pamphlet has the happiest of endings, as Lenin noted in explaining why he had to stop writing: “It is more pleasant and useful to go through the ‘experience of the revolution’ than to write about it.”

He not only experienced that revolution but led it. It was the major factor in the history of the 20th century until it was reversed in 1989-1991.

To open the study of Lenin in this 90th year after his death, we’d like to call attention to an article written by late-Workers World Party founder Sam Marcy in 1992, which is available online at This work, written after the disappearance of the Soviet Union, analyzes the enormous problems that the Bolsheviks faced in the period just after the 1917 Revolution. It is a good way to begin to appreciate the contributions of Lenin.

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U.S., EU back pro-imperialist coup attempt in Ukraine [Workers World]

Posted in Anti-communism, Corporate Media Critique, EU, European Union, Fascism, Germany, Lenin, NATO, Nazism, Russia, Ukraine, US imperialism, USA, USSR, World War II on December 22, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Gene Clancy

December 17, 2013

Dec. 15 — With strong, almost universal support from the corporate media, the United States government along with the European Union is carrying out a propaganda blitz while threatening sanctions against the government of Ukraine.

On Dec. 15, Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), with the full tacit support of Washington, traveled to Ukraine uninvited and spoke to demonstrators who are trying to overthrow the elected government. These demonstrators are protesting President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign a trade deal with the European Union.

Such a deal would undermine Ukrainian sovereignty and allow the International Monetary Fund to impose onerous economic restrictions, while allowing the EU to flood the Ukrainian market with its exports. It would also open the door to NATO penetration of Ukraine, on Russia’s border, according to former Congressperson Dennis Kucinich. (Huffington Post, Dec. 15)

After the pro-EU demonstrators rammed a bulldozer into a government building, the protesters expanded their demands to call for Yanukovych’s downfall.

McCain told NBC News today that sanctions against Ukraine “would deserve serious consideration” by Congress if Ukraine signed a customs and trade union with Russia instead of entering into the trade deal with Europe. Speaking from Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, the militarist senator then appeared on nearly every Sunday morning talk show in the U.S.

This was not the first time that there has been a threat of U.S. sanctions against Ukraine. On Dec. 11, U.S. spokesperson Jen Psaki said, “All policy options, including sanctions, are on the table in our view.” (UPI)

– Hundreds of thousands oppose EU domination –

Among the masses, some of those organizations not part of the government have diametrically opposed positions. Nor is the pro-EU “opposition” in any way progressive or democratic, as the imperialist-based media make it out to be.

On one side was the Dec. 8 action in Kiev, led by the Svoboda (“Freedom” Party), in which a statue of Soviet leader V.I. Lenin was toppled. Svoboda set up its flag and also the flag of the World-War-II-era Nazi collaboration regime on the pedestal. The group’s leader, Oleg Tyagnibok, boasted this vandalism was the “political murder” of communists.

Following this attack, the Communist Party of Ukraine issued an urgent call for solidarity from the international workers’ movement, warning that an attempted fascist coup is underway in the former Soviet republic.

As many as 200,000 demonstrators opposing the pro-imperialists mounted a rally in Kiev on Dec. 14 right next to Europe Square, where the anti-Yanukovych and pro-EU demonstrators are besieging the government and protesting the president’s refusal to sign the Association Agreement with the EU. (Agence France-Presse, Dec. 14)

Speaking of the pro-EU forces, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told the pro-government rally: “The politicians who promote hatred and division of Ukraine don’t belong in today’s politics. Their place is at the garbage dump.” (AFP)

The so-called opposition contains some very unsavory characters and parties. McCain had met with some of them before making his threats. He wrote on Twitter that he had “good conversation and dinner” with the three main opposition leaders — Vitali Klitschko, head of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform; Oleg Tyagnybok of the Svoboda Party; and Arseniy Yatsenyuk of the Fatherland Party. He also met with the powerful Ukrainian Orthodox Patriarch, Filaret, who has backed the protests.

The Svoboda party’s Tyagnybok deserves special attention. A pillar of his party’s ideology is the glorification of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which fought against Soviet forces in World War II when Nazi Germany occupied Ukraine and whose offshoots continued anti-Soviet armed actions right up into the 1950s. Svoboda regards the growing Communist Party of Ukraine as its mortal enemy.

Svoboda once organised a march against the Hassidic Jews who arrive in the thousands for a pilgrimage every year in the city of Uman, and opposed a singer of African origin representing Ukraine in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. (AFP)

Along with the pro-imperialist and fascist parties, some 40,000 Western-based nongovernmental organizations have been operating in Ukraine. ( These provide some of the services once provided by the socialist government, but they fully backed the pro-West “Orange Revolution” of 2004, which has since been pushed back.

By meeting with neofascists like Tyagnybok and threatening economic sanctions — which amount to an act of war — with the apparent full backing of the U.S. government and its lapdog media, McCain has made the imperialist intentions of the U.S. and the EU perfectly clear. Progressives and advocates of true democracy around the world should vigorously oppose these moves in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

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Obama pushes war on Syria with new tactic [Workers World]

Posted in Bill Clinton, Bourgeois parliamentary democracy, CIA, France, Germany, Hillary Clinton, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lenin, Media smear campaign, NATO, Obama, Pentagon, Russia, Sarkozy, Syria, Tony Blair, U.K., UNSC, US imperialism, USA, USSR, Zionism on September 8, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Fred Goldstein
Sept. 9, 2013

* Another step to war *

On Sept. 3, Republican senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, brokers for the Pentagon hawks, met with President Obama and came away saying that they now support plans for missile strikes against Syria. Graham said the attacks were going to be “a little more robust” than he had thought. There was talk of attacks on Syrian aircraft, artillery and rockets, and assurances from Obama that the attacks would be aimed at “shifting the momentum on the battlefield.” McCain called the meeting “encouraging” and said it would be “catastrophic” not to support the strikes.

This message signifies a convergence between the Obama administration and the aggressive militarists in the Pentagon and the ruling class. It is another dangerous step toward a military adventure.

+ Mass skepticism +

Sept. 2 — President Barack Obama and his administration are demanding that Congress underwrite a military adventure that will bring death and destruction to the Syrian masses, despite all the smooth, sanitizing phrases about so-called precision cruise missile “surgical strikes,” “limited targets,” and “deter and degrade.”

The intended attack on Syria holds the potential to trigger a much wider conflict, which will bring suffering and hardship not only to the people of the Middle East but to the workers and the oppressed in the U.S.

The whole world expected Obama to announce missile strikes on Syria on Aug. 31. But at the last minute he decided to opt for the tactic of dragging Congress into an endorsement intended to legitimize an act of imperialist aggression that has already been decided upon.

The fact that his move to take it to Congress has become controversial is a measure of the degree to which the Pentagon and previous presidents have obliterated constitutional legality, which says clearly that only Congress can declare war. But in his speech, Obama did not formally surrender the right to make war without congressional authority, he only said it would produce a “stronger” mandate — if the Congress does what it is legally required to do and votes on the question.

This stratagem of pressuring Congress into becoming an open accomplice to a military strike was made necessary when the attempt to drum up support for war with a battery of lies alleging Syrian government chemical warfare “atrocities” flopped.

+ Danger signals from London +

A powerful signal of impending U.S. isolation came when the British Parliament voted against participating in the attack. The British capitalist government, which during the Iraq war was called a “U.S. poodle” by the British masses, backed away from being drawn into the U.S. military adventure.

In addition, the German imperialists distanced themselves from the adventure. NATO will not go along. The normally docile Arab League did not endorse the strikes. The U.N. Security Council would not endorse the strikes. And the ruling class in the U.S. is divided over what to do.

Only the French imperialists, the former colonial rulers of Syria with strong interests in the country, were willing to endorse the attack.

This time around, the imperialist allies are afraid of being dragged into a U.S. military adventure at a time when the working classes of the capitalist world are suffering mass unemployment, declining wages, growing poverty and inequality. The U.S. has engaged in at least three major wars in the last decade and the population knows that trillions of dollars have been spent on these military adventures. Yet austerity for the workers is deepening as the criminal bankers and bosses pile up record profits and incomes.

Still in the minds of the masses are images of former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell standing before the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, pointing to charts, reports and satellite photos that allegedly proved the existence of “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq. They also haunt the minds of bourgeois politicians, like former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose reputations and/or careers were ruined because they hitched themselves to the fraudulent deceptions of the U.S. imperialist establishment. Ten more years of war followed the Powell speech.

Flash forward to today. The allies all know that U.S. charges defy all logic and they fear future exposure. The Syrian government would not gas its own people — right in the suburbs of the capital, Damascus — at the very moment that it welcomed U.N. inspectors on to the site of the alleged attack. Nor would it resort to such weapons at the moment when it is making military progress against the counterrevolutionary forces.

In the struggle for world support, it would be suicidal for the government in Damascus to risk alienating world opinion by carrying out such an act. No one in the Middle East, except for the puppet governments of the Arab League and other allies of U.S. imperialism, even pretends to believe it.

The only ones to benefit from such an act, if it took place, would be Washington, which has long planned to overthrow the government in Damascus and now feels it necessary to carry out direct military aggression, after all else failed.

+ Masses suffering from ‘intervention fatigue’ +

The Wall Street Journal of Sept. 2 aptly quoted James Lindsay, a former Clinton administration official: “The public has a clear case of intervention fatigue after 12 years of engagement overseas, the longest stretch in U.S. history.”

In fact, a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken the week that all the horrific reports of alleged Syrian atrocities were headlined in the capitalist media said that only 9 percent of respondents were for military intervention.

Rumors about a difficult upcoming vote for the strikes in Congress are being attributed to partisanship, factionalism, etc. But politics aside, in spite of the pressure for war, the politicians still need to get elected and many may not want to be tied to another disastrous military adventure.

For the anti-imperialist movement, the most significant political development to emerge from this crisis is this: The material basis of popular support for imperialist war has been eroded by previous wars and by the devastating global economic crisis.

This greatly strengthens the long-term prospects for mobilizing the masses against the Pentagon’s adventures, in Syria or elsewhere. The hawks in the Pentagon are moving in the opposite direction than the masses of people, and a clash is inevitable.

+ ‘Chemical weapons’ frame-up long in making +

There is a tendency in the capitalist media to call Obama inept for getting the U.S. into a bind. The fact is that the foundation of this crisis was laid back in March 2011, when Washington decided to foment an anti-government opposition in Syria with the aim of overthrowing the sovereign government of Bashar al-Assad.

In August 2011, after consultations at the highest level, with the hawkish secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, playing a leading role, Obama announced that President Assad had to go. In quick succession, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nikolas Sarkozy and German President Angela Merkel followed suit, calling for Assad to step down.

This was a definitive signal that U.S. imperialism intended to go all the way with “regime change” in Syria.

Washington and the Pentagon undoubtedly thought this was going to be easily achieved. But exactly one year after saying Assad must go, the government in Damascus was still there and fighting off the imperialist-sponsored counterrevolutionaries as well as the al-Nusra jihadists.

Thus, on Aug. 20, 2011, the Obama administration rolled out the “chemical weapons” frame-up plan. Obama, based on nothing, announced out of the blue that if Damascus used chemical weapons, it would have crossed a “red line” and changed his “calculus.” Such warnings and subsequent lies about the use of chemical weapons were repeated over and over by the administration and in the capitalist media, laying the groundwork for this latest frame-up.

What triggered this talk of chemical weapons was the military progress that the Assad forces were making against the reactionary forces, who were also suffering splits on the ground. This frame-up was prepared long in advance, and it is part of a larger goal of destroying the government of Syria.

+ War against Syria as preparation for wider war +

But the war against Syria and the preparation for intervention must be seen as part of a broader Pentagon strategy. Syria is the front line of a de facto alliance of the forces of resistance to imperialism in the Middle East, including Hezbollah and Iran.

Many hawks in the Pentagon and in the capitalist government have wanted to attack Iran ever since it announced its nuclear program. Hezbollah delivered a defeat to the Israeli Zionist state and has played a key role in helping the Syrian government take back territory from the so-called “Free Syrian Army,” which is an instrument of the Pentagon and the CIA.

Russia has supported Syria diplomatically and militarily. Furthermore, Syria is Russia’s primary ally in the Middle East and, with Iran, one of only two countries in the region where Russian warships can dock. This relationship goes back to the days of the USSR and has been continued by the present reactionary capitalist leaders of Russia on a pragmatic basis since the overthrow of the Soviet Union.

In addition to supporting Syria, Russia, in defiance of Washington, has given refuge to Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who exposed the global spy network of the National Security Agency. In addition, President Vladimir Putin has been persecuting pro-U.S. businessmen and politicians in Russia. There has also been antagonism over the U.S. anti-ballistic missile systems and other issues.

On different levels, the war against Syria is both a war and an opener for a wider war, a proxy war against Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. The aim is to overthrow the Syrian government, break up the nexus of resistance which centers on Damascus, set up a regime that would threaten Hezbollah, close down Russia’s naval facility and port privileges, and drive the Russians out of the country. And this could set the stage for U.S. aggression against Iran.

This is the broader geopolitics of the struggle against Syria.

+ Syria and post-Soviet era of ‘reconquest’ +

This broader struggle must be understood in terms of the nature of imperialism. It is a permanently aggressive, war-like and expansionary system, as Vladimir Lenin described in his classic work, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism,” written in 1916.

Syria is one of a number of countries that achieved independence and were able to partially or fully break with imperialism during the Soviet era. With all its contradictions, the Soviet Union was an alternative socialist system that was antagonistic to imperialism and gave varying degrees of economic, political and military support and protection to oppressed countries struggling for independence. The very existence of the USSR made it possible for hundreds of millions of people to break with imperialism.

The collapse of the USSR set the stage for the imperialists to try to take back all the territory and influence that they had lost during the three-quarters of a century marking the Soviet era.

The post-Soviet era has been the era of reconquest. This is what has driven imperialist war and intervention since the collapse of the USSR and Eastern Europe — just as the Cold War and the struggle between the two antagonistic social systems drove imperialist war and militarism after World II. And it was the struggle among the imperialist powers for domination of the globe that drove the two world wars in the first half of the 20th century.

This is what accounts for the wars against Yugoslavia, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, the permanent threats to Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and now the war against Syria.

+ Capitalist politics as the art of deception +

Capitalist politics is the art of deception and, above all, deceiving the masses. W hen the decision to go to war approaches, the level of deception reaches staggering heights.

No one should be deceived for a moment by the lies told by Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and the entire capitalist media, which are beginning to march in lock step towards war.

Every word uttered by the administration is designed to conceal its predatory aims. The claim that cruise missile strikes — launching powerful warheads that can cause massive destruction — is not aimed at “regime change” is a complete falsehood. That is the fundamental U.S. government goal and has been since March 2011, when the counterrevolutionary campaign began.

Minimally, the strikes are aimed at helping the U.S.-supported forces on the ground regain the military initiative they have lost to government forces. Strikes would also be aimed at pushing back al-Nusra. But the main aim of regaining the military initiative is the overthrow of the Assad government, pure and simple — i.e., “regime change.” Washington has to deny this.

A time-tested part of capitalist pre-war deception is the attempt to create war fever by framing up the intended target of aggression as the aggressor. This “aggressor” invariably then carries out “atrocities,” possesses “weapons of mass destruction” or commits other acts that require imperialism to wage war.

Before or during every war since the invasion of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines in 1898, down to the Gulf of Tonkin frame-up of the Vietnamese in 1964 that resulted in the deployment of 500,000 troops to Vietnam, to the wars against Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya, the victims of U.S. aggression have been put in the dock by the politicians and propagandists of the war machine.

But they haven’t succeeded this time around. The attempt to drum up international and domestic war fever to get approval for an attack on Syria has fallen flat. Washington has been growing more and more isolated.

Whatever the immediate outcome of the vote in Congress, and whether the strikes are carried out as planned, Washington and the Pentagon will not give up their designs on ruling the entire Middle East.

Nor will the system change its nature. Under imperialism, periods of peace are only interludes between wars. And the last two decades, since the collapse of the USSR, have been a period of perpetual war and intervention.

The only way to stop war is to destroy imperialism root and branch and the monopoly capitalist system on which it rests.

Fred Goldstein is the author of “Low-Wage Capitalism” and “Capitalism at a Dead End,” which has been translated into Spanish as “El capitalismo en un callejón sin salida.”

Articles copyright 1995-2013 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Marxism and the social character of China [Workers World]

Posted in Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, CPC, Deng Xiaoping, France, Germany, Japan, Lenin, Mao Zedong, PLA, Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, State-owned Enterprise (SOE), U.K., US imperialism, USA on June 15, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Fred Goldstein

June 13, 2013

The issue of China is one of the most important questions of the 21st century for the working class and the oppressed peoples, as well as the hostile imperialist ruling classes of the world.

The progressive and revolutionary movements, especially in the U.S., have a great stake in arriving at a correct policy toward China.

First of all, China is a formerly oppressed country that achieved liberation from British, French, German, U.S. and Japanese imperialism in 1949 by making one of the greatest revolutions in history. At that time, one quarter of the human race was torn from the clutches of imperialism. As a formerly oppressed country struggling for national development, it must be defended against all varieties of imperialist military, economic and political aggression, regardless of what one thinks about its social character.

China today is a new, complex and contradictory phenomenon in history. It has fundamental socialist structures alongside capitalist development and imperialist penetration. The leadership calls it “market socialism” or socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Socialism is inscribed firmly as China’s foundation in its constitution. The international capitalist class is profoundly hostile to China and never ceases to try to undermine its fundamental socialist structures.

Yet workers in Chinese private industry are subjected to capitalist exploitation and the workers in the state industries have lost much of the economic support that once attached to their workplaces. Horrendous industrial accidents take place and environmental problems are severe.

– Dual character of China’s economic foundation –

Only Marxism enables us to approach an analysis of China.

Marxism has shown that the character of any society is determined by its economic foundation and that the superstructure of society, its politics, ideology, etc., are determined by the economic foundation.

How can such an analysis be applied to China and how can it help to clarify how to view China?

To begin with, the economic foundation of China is not homogeneous. It is partly socialist and partly capitalist. The question for us and for the world working class is: Which is dominant? — the socialist foundation, or the capitalist enterprises seeking private accumulation of profit through the exploitation of the working class?

Similarly, the superstructure is not homogeneous. On the one hand, there are the Communist Party, the People’s Liberation Army and the ideological doctrine that declares socialism to be the foundation of China. On the other hand, there is the relentless promotion of opening up to imperialism and capitalist market reforms. And, above all, there is a struggle over political reform, meaning the right for the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie to organize politically, either inside the party, outside the party or both. There is a steady drumbeat for “political reform” from the imperialists and their class allies inside China.

– Economic crisis of 2008-2009 was a critical test –

How can we assess this situation? We should start by empirical examination of China, on the one hand, and the rest of the capitalist world on the other.

A critical test came when the Chinese leadership was forced to deal with the effects of the worst capitalist crisis since World War II.

When the crisis hit in 2008 to 2009, many tens of millions of workers in the U.S., Europe, Japan and across the capitalist world were plunged into unemployment.

China, which had dangerously allowed itself to become heavily dependent on exports to the capitalist West, suddenly was faced with the shutdown of thousands of factories, primarily in the eastern coastal provinces and the special economic zones.

More than 20 million Chinese workers lost their jobs in a very short time.

So what did the Chinese government do?

We described what happened in a series of articles in Workers World entitled “The Suppression of Bo Xilai and the Capitalist Road — Can Socialism Be Revived in China?” The article, published on March 27, 2012, explained that plans drafted as far back as 2003, to go into effect in future years, were pushed forward and implemented.

We then quoted from Nicholas Lardy, a bourgeois China expert from the prestigious Peterson Institute for International Economics, who described how consumption in China actually grew during the crisis of 2008-09, wages went up, and the government created enough jobs to compensate for the layoffs caused by the global crisis.

Said Lardy: “In a year in which GDP expansion [in China] was the slowest in almost a decade, how could consumption growth in 2009 have been so strong in relative terms? How could this happen at a time when employment in export-oriented industries was collapsing, with a survey conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture reporting the loss of 20 million jobs in export manufacturing centers along the southeast coast, notably in Guangdong Province? The relatively strong growth of consumption in 2009 is explained by several factors. First, the boom in investment, particularly in construction activities, appears to have generated additional employment sufficient to offset a very large portion of the job losses in the export sector. For the year as a whole the Chinese economy created 11.02 million jobs in urban areas, very nearly matching the 11.13 million urban jobs created in 2008.

“Second, while the growth of employment slowed slightly, wages continued to rise. In nominal terms wages in the formal sector rose 12 percent, a few percentage points below the average of the previous five years (National Bureau of Statistics of China 2010f, 131). In real terms the increase was almost 13 percent. Third, the government continued its programs of increasing payments to those drawing pensions and raising transfer payments to China’s lowest-income residents. Monthly pension payments for enterprise retirees increased by RMB120, or 10 percent, in January 2009, substantially more than the 5.9 percent increase in consumer prices in 2008. This raised the total payments to retirees by about RMB75 billion. The Ministry of Civil Affairs raised transfer payments to about 70 million of China’s lowest-income citizens by a third, for an increase of RMB20 billion in 2009 (Ministry of Civil Affairs 2010).”

He further explained that the Ministry of Railroads introduced eight specific plans, to be completed in 2020, to be implemented in the crisis. The World Bank called it “perhaps the biggest single planned program of passenger rail investment there has ever been in one country.” In addition, ultrahigh-voltage grid projects were undertaken, among other advances.

The full article by Lardy can be found in “Sustaining China’s Economic Growth after the Global Financial Crisis,” Kindle Locations 664-666, Peterson Institute for International Economics.

– Socialist structures reversed collapse –

So income went up, consumption went up and unemployment was overcome in China — all while the capitalist world was still mired in mass unemployment, austerity, recession, stagnation, slow growth and increasing poverty.

The reversal of the effects of the crisis in China is the direct result of national planning, state-owned enterprises, state-owned banking and the policy decisions of the Chinese Communist Party.

There was a crisis in China, and it was caused by the world capitalist crisis. The question was which principle would prevail in the face of mass unemployment — the rational, humane principle of planning or the capitalist market. In China the planning principle, the conscious element, took precedence over the anarchy of production brought about by the laws of the market and the law of labor value.

But the institutions based on the remaining structures of Chinese socialism, which saved the masses from economic disaster, are the very institutions that the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Wall Street and London want to reduce and eventually destroy. They are the state-owned enterprises, government planning and the control by the Chinese Communist Party.

One might say that the Chinese leadership did this to avoid unrest. Surely the capitalists in Europe and the U.S. also want to avoid unrest. But that did not cause them to put tens of millions of workers back to work, raise pensions, raise stipends and social welfare payments. It only caused them to institute austerity to secure the profits of the bankers.

Coming back to Marxist analysis, it is clear from the way the Chinese leadership handled this crisis that the socialist side of the economic foundation is still dominant in China. And the same can be said for the political superstructure.

The enemies of socialism claim that capitalism is responsible for the great successes in China.

But that is a falsehood. China has succeeded in its economic development because the socialist sector has broadly contained domestic capitalism and imperialist investment within the framework of the national economic goals of the leadership.

Without that, China would look like India — which also has planning but is a thoroughly capitalist country.

In India, poverty is so deep that people live on garbage dumps, wash their clothes in polluted water, and the urban slums in Kolkata and Mumbai rival rural poverty. The masses of India are desperately poor — living on $1 to $2 a day — even as the glittering high-tech industry develops alongside the abysmal economic conditions faced by hundreds of millions of Indians.

There is no comparison with China. But if the imperialists have their way, if they can destroy the socialist foundation and the Communist Party, they will turn China into another India. That is what is at stake in the struggle to stop the counterrevolution in China.

– ‘Market socialism’ a false and dangerous concept –

This analysis should not be understood in any way as support for the doctrine of “market socialism.” In our view the anarchy of the capitalist market is antagonistic to the planning of a socialist society and socialist construction. Capitalist private property is antagonistic to socialist property and production for private accumulation is antagonistic to production for social use and human need.

There are historical circumstances of extreme underdevelopment which compel a socialist government to employ both private and state capitalist methods to promote development of the productive forces and the creation of the working class from the rural population.

It is one thing, however, to use these methods as a temporary expedient, to make a retreat from socialism in order to make socialism triumphant in the struggle against capitalist methods. That was Lenin’s idea behind the New Economic Policy. It began in 1921 in the USSR, during the direst times after the civil war left the country in ruins and the working class that survived was going back to the country to get food.

But Lenin always regarded this as a retreat and a crucial struggle. The question, as Lenin put it, was “Who will win?”

China long ago developed economically after the capitalist reforms instituted by Deng Xiaoping. But what should have been a temporary retreat has become an enshrined policy of treating capitalism as a partner with socialism. Private capital grows automatically and with it the economic strength and political influence of the capitalist class, its petty bourgeois hangers-on, as well as the petty bourgeois intelligentsia. This carries great long-term dangers for China.

The socialist component of the economic foundation is dominant at the present. But capitalism is continuing to erode that foundation and do damage to the workers. Furthermore, the new leadership of Xi Jiping and Li Kequang have sent signals that they want to move to the right in the economy. Expanding the opportunities for imperialist investment and moving more and more in the direction of bourgeois economic reforms is playing with fire.

– Revive spirit of Mao, workers’ power –

Bo Xilai, the former head of the party for Chongqing Province, is now languishing in detention. He has been held for over a year because he sought to revive the cultural and egalitarian spirit of Mao Zedong and because he had a program to retard the march down the capitalist road. (See articles from Workers World.)

Bo represented a left resistance to the current policies at the level of top leadership. His defeat has paved the way for a further turn to the right.

What is really needed is a sharp turn to the left. The workers must reclaim the socialist rights first established by the Chinese revolution and deepened during the period of Mao. This is the only thing that can revive and secure Chinese socialism in the long run.

But in the meantime, there must be a firm defense of China against every scheme by imperialism and by the domestic capitalist class in China to undermine the socialist foundation that still exists there.

* Based on a talk by Fred Goldstein at the Left Forum in New York City on June 9. *

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New Chinese leader denounces Gorbachev [Workers World]

Posted in China, CPC, CPC Central Committee (CPCCC), Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Lenin, Mao Zedong, Marx, Reform and opening up, Scientific Outlook on Development, USSR on March 14, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Fred Goldstein
March 11, 2013

…But Xi continues dangerous policy of market ‘economic reform’

The new head of the Chinese Communist Party and president of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, is reported to have made a private speech to party leaders during a recent trip to southern China. In it, he denounced Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader who opened the door to the counterrevolution and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Xi reportedly pledged never to follow that road.

This speech, which has not been published in English, caused deep disappointment in imperialist circles. While it has been acknowledged in a front-page article of the New York Times and referred to in Businessweek and other capitalist publications, the ruling class is being relatively quiet about it, trying to remain optimistic about the prospects for deepening bourgeois political reform in China.

“Deepening political reform” is a code phrase for opening up the political process for bourgeois or petit-bourgeois political groupings, either outside or inside the Chinese Communist Party, that want to restore capitalism and break up the CCP. To the imperialists, gaining capitalist political power is even more important than market reforms, because it would lay the basis for destroying the foundations of the Chinese Revolution.

– Xi on collapse of USSR –

Reporting on Xi’s speech, the New York Times of Feb. 14 said: “Despite decades of heady growth, Mr. Xi told party insiders during a visit to Guangdong Province in December, China must still heed the ‘deeply profound’ lessons of the former Soviet Union, where political rot, ideological heresy and military disloyalty brought down the governing party. In a province famed for its frenetic capitalism, he demanded a return to traditional Leninist discipline.”

It quoted from a summary of his remarks reportedly circulated among party officials: “Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse? An important reason was that their ideals and convictions wavered. …

“Finally, all it took was one quiet word from Gorbachev to declare the dissolution of the Soviet Communist Party, and a great party was gone.” Xi spoke of how some of the party leaders had Gorbachev arrested, but “Yeltsin stood on a tank” while the army stood by and did nothing to defend the party and the USSR.

The Times picked up the summary of the speech from a blog published by a counterrevolutionary, Gao Yu, who works with the German radio station Deutsche Welle. (Beijing Observation: Xi Jinping, posted by Yaxue Cao, Jan. 26)

Gao, who was twice imprisoned for supporting the pro-capitalist counterrevolutionary uprising at Tiananmen Square in 1989, has connections in China and published commentary and excerpts from the speech. According to the Times, the speech has been vetted by Chinese officials and others and is said to be authentic.

Gao quoted Xi as saying, “We must see clearly our place in history, see clearly the realistic goals as well as the long-term vision to which we are devoted. We are still in the early stage of socialism, and we must do whatever we can to realize the goals of the current stage. But if we lose sight of our vision as communists, we will lose our direction and succumb to utilitarianism and pragmatism. To uphold our ideals and beliefs, we must uphold Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong thoughts, Deng Xiaoping theory, the important contribution of the ‘three represents,’ and the Scientific Outlook on Development. The great renewal of the Chinese nation has been the greatest dream of the Chinese nation over the last couple of hundred years. The ‘China dream’ is an ideal. But of course, as communists, we should have a higher ideal, and that is, communism.”

Gao complained that Xi did not mention “political reform” once during his southern tour. This counterrevolutionary’s interpretation of the Xi speech was that it “was clearly intended to give the CCP ideology a renewed status,” meaning the official ideology of China, which is socialist, all the capitalist reforms notwithstanding.

The Times article mentioned that in one speech on the tour, Xi said that “Mao Zedong’s era of revolutionary socialism should not be dismissed as a failure.” The Times further pointed out that Xi has pledged to pursue “economic reform” but that “he won’t become a Gorbachev.”

We have no way of verifying the accuracy of the quotations and paraphrases from the speech. Nor can the revolutionary and progressive forces around the world, based on the workers and oppressed, get a true estimate of the relationship of forces in China between the right wing and the center, or what influence the left has. Furthermore, many details of the speech require critical examination.

– China and former USSR: similar problems –

But a few things are clear. There is enough pressure coming from the right to bring the hypothetical prospect of counterrevolution to the level of consciousness and discussion of the top leadership. A time of change in leadership, before the leaders get drawn into the all-consuming vortex of day-to-day responsibility for running the country, lends itself to trying to see China’s development within a broader perspective. It is in this context that Xi is going over in his mind the disastrous Soviet scenario in order to draw from it the lessons for China.

But it is dangerous for Xi to reduce the reasons for the collapse of the USSR to liberalism in politics, ideological deterioration, and the indifference and opportunism of the military.

Bourgeois forces — like those that were nurtured underground over many decades in the USSR in an atmosphere of bureaucratic privilege, got seduced by the material prowess of capitalism and were intimidated by relentless imperialist threats — are now operating completely above ground in China. Furthermore, while the proletariat was politically pushed out of the running of society in the USSR, the same can be said for the workers of China.

Being for “economic reform” as the route for developing China is to put the development of the productive forces above the development of socialist social relations. It means putting material accomplishment above class consciousness, class solidarity and the empowerment of the masses. This is precisely what present-day China has in common with the former USSR — despite the vast differences.

This is what led to Gorbachev. Only by putting an end to this orientation, begun by Deng Xiaoping after the defeat of the left, can the Chinese Revolution be revived and secured.

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