This article is based on, and a slightly detailed version of, the speech made by Harpal Brar at a public meeting on November 20th, 1999 in Leicester, to mark the 82nd Anniversary of the Great Socialist October Revolution. The meeting was organised by the Committee to Celebrate the October Revolution with the full support of SLP and IWA(GB) comrades.
Marxism-Leninism more relevant than ever before
A decade ago, when the Berlin Wall came down, the ideologues of imperialism came forth with the assertion that history was at an end; that henceforth there will be no class struggle, no ideological struggle, but instead only
“the endless solving of technical problems”
and the satisfaction of
. Here, for instance, is how the US Professor Francis Fukuyama, expressed himself on this score:
“The end of history will be a very sad time. The struggle for recognition, the willingness to risk one’s life for a purely abstract goal, the world wide ideological struggle that called forth daring, courage, imagination and idealism, will be replaced by economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands” (Prof. Francis Fukuyama, 1989).
And, when two years later, in 1991, the once-mighty Soviet Union itself collapsed, as a culmination of three decades of Khruschevite revisionist betrayal of, and departure from, the principles of Marxism-Leninism in the fields of political economy, philosophy and class struggle, bourgeois triumphalism went truly berserk, pronouncing the death of Marxism and declaring capitalism to be the final and eternal fate of humanity. Here is a typical example of this bourgeois triumphalism. In a special 1994 issue, entitled ’21st Century Capitalism’, Business Week, with a confidence borne out of ignorance of the laws of historical development, made the foolish assertion:
“The death throes of communism [revisionism, not communism; oh wise ones!]
clearly gave birth to the new era, leaving most nations with only one choice – to join … the market economy …. Almost 150 years following the publication of the Communist Manifesto and more than half a century after the rise of totalitarianism
[i.e. communism, which for the bourgeoisie is a most extreme kind of ‘totalitarianism’, depriving as it does the bourgeoisie of its most cherished freedom – the right to exploit],
the bourgeoisie has won”
It is not the first time, nor the last, that the bourgeoisie and its hired lackeys have declared Marxism as being well and truly dead and buried. In fact this attempt at the ‘annihilation’ of Marxism is as old as Marxism and will continue until the complete downfall of capitalism. Each time the bourgeoisie pronounces death sentences on Marxism, the latter rises with renewed vigour forcing the bourgeoisie to yet again take up this futile attempt at ‘annihilating’ it for the millionth time.
In attacking Marxism, in attacking Lenin’s thesis on imperialism, what the imperialist bourgeoisie, and its paid and unpaid agents, are striving to do is to destroy the faith of the working class in its ability to overthrow imperialism and to create a new life, free from exploitation, oppression and war, for the vast masses of people. Hence their constant refrain to the effect that Marxism is a ‘failed ideology’ and that it has been ‘destroyed’. Earlier generations of proletarian revolutionaries too had to deal with, and refute, such utter bourgeois nonsense. In his report to the 17th Congress of the CPSU(B) towards the end of January 1934, Stalin dealt with this question in the following terms:
“It is said that it [Marxism
] has been destroyed by the bourgeois-nationalist trend known as fascism. That is nonsense, of course. Only people who are ignorant of history can say such things. Marxism is the scientific expression of the fundamental interests of the working class. If Marxism is to be destroyed, the working class must be destroyed. And it is impossible to destroy the working class. More than 80 years have passed since Marxism came into the arena. During this time scores and hundreds of bourgeois governments have tried to destroy Marxism. But what has been the upshot? Bourgeois governments have come and gone, but Marxism remained. … It cannot be regarded as an accident that the country
[i.e. the USSR]
in which Marxism has finally triumphed is now the only country in the world which knows no crises and unemployment, whereas in all other countries, including the fascist countries, crises and unemployment have been reigning. No, comrades, this is not an accident (
Problems of Leninism
, pp 653-4).
Far from being destroyed, the relevance of Marxism-Leninism to the emancipation of humanity from the torments of hunger and war, misery and degradation, is greater today than ever before. Nor could it be otherwise. For the crisis of imperialism, far from abating, has become even more intensified since the disintegration of the USSR. All the major contradictions (between labour and capital; between oppressed nations and imperialism; and between different imperialist countries) in the world are developing with intensified momentum and driving capitalist society at breakneck speed in the direction of a crash and a total breakdown. That this is so is not anyone’s fault, nor is it due to the mismanagement of the economy. On the contrary, it is entirely attributable to the ‘normal’ workings of the capitalist economy and the unfolding of the laws of its development. It is merely indicative of the fact that socialisation of production has reached gigantic proportions, that
“private economic and private property relations constitute a shell which no longer fits its contents, a shell which must inevitably decay if its removal is artificially delayed for a fairly long period (if at worst, the cure of the opportunist abcess is protracted), but which will inevitably be removed”
Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism
, p.119). Only proletarian revolution, only socialism and communism, offer humanity the way out of the hell that is existence under the conditions of capitalism for the vast majority of the people inhabiting our planet.
We are told by the bourgeoisie that communism is a failed system, that only the ‘free market’ economy, i.e. capitalism, answers the needs and requirements of the people. However this assertion does not stand even the most cursory scrutiny.
A Divided World and a Divided Society
Facts and statistics, emanating from the most impeccable of bourgeois sources, which cannot be suspected of harbouring even an iota of bias towards Marxism or sympathy for the masses of downtrodden people around the world, prove beyond a shred of doubt that we live in a divided society and a divided world, in which
“Accumulation of wealth at one pole is … at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation at the opposite pole, i.e., on the side of the class that produces its own product in the form of capital”
, Vol.1, p.645, FLPH, Moscow).
Irrefutable statistics contained in the successive yearly Human Development Reports, published by the United Nations Development programme, fully bear out the truth in the above-quoted remarks of Marx. The latest report in these series, released on 12 July 1999, makes startling reading. The report paints a picture of “grotesque” inequalities across and within countries. On the one hand, there is a tiny group of rich imperialist oppressing nations, with per capita GDP of $25,000 a year, on the other hand, are ranged scores of poor oppressed nations, with per capita GDP of a mere $300 a year. The rich countries, while being home to only a fifth of the world’s population, account for 86% of the world’s GDP; 82% of its export markets, 68% of its foreign direct investment (FDI), and 74% of the planet’s telephone lines. 91% of all the internet users live in the member countries of the OECD. There are 600 telephone lines for every 1,000 people in the US, Sweden and Switzerland – this contrasts with only one telephone per 1,000 in Cambodia, Chad and Afghanistan. 95% of the patents issued in the last 20 years belong to Multinational Corporations (MNCs) in the ten richest (imperialist) countries. Just 10 rich countries account for 84% of global research.
Although global GDP, having increased ninefold during the last 50 years, today stands at $30,000 billion, the GDP of the Group of Seven countries, with a population of only 685 million, adds up to $20 trillion. In other words a mere 12% of the world’s population, living in the richest seven imperialist countries, consumes two-thirds of the global income, whereas 181 countries, with a combined population of over 5 billion, have a combined income of just $10 trillion.
If the richest 20% of the world’s population living in the richest countries accounts for 86% of the global income, the poorest 20%, living in the poorest and oppressed nations, account for an insignificant 1.3%; 1.3 billion people, inhabitants almost entirely in the poor countries, live in absolute poverty on less than $1 a day, whereas 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day. Of the 4.4 billion people, living in the so-called Third World (i.e. former colonies and oppressed nations), three quarters (3.3 billion) don’t have their basic needs satisfied; a quarter (1.1 billion) have no access to safe drinking water; a quarter have inadequate housing; nearly a fifth (900 million) go hungry; nearly a fifth are illiterate; and just under half (2 billion) are without electricity.
During her visit to the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, in the summer of 1999, Liz Mason, the head of the regional secretariat of the World Health Organisation (WHO), said that 12 million children die in developing countries every year before they reach the age of five. She told the Zimbabwe News Agency that seven out of ten such deaths were caused by respiratory infections, diarrhoea, measles, malaria and malnutrition. Most of these children, she added, died during their first year of life.
Of the 33 million sufferers from AIDs, 95% live in the poor countries. Africa alone accounts for 23 million (70%) of those who are HIV positive. It costs $12,000 per annum to treat each person infected with this virus. The cost of giving the same treatment to all the African victims of this virus as is provided to AIDs sufferers in Western Europe and the US would add up to $300 billion a year. A loss of 17 years in life expectancy is projected for the 9 African countries with an HIV prevalence of 10%, or more, of the population. There is not a hope in hell of the African victims of this dreadful disease getting such treatment, particularly in view of the fact that some countries in Africa are forced to spend nine times as much on servicing their foreign debt as they spend on primary health care, and four times as much on primary education.
The oppressed countries are groaning under the unbearable yoke of foreign debt, which has grown with geometrical progression – from a mere $7 billion in the 1950s to $1.4 trillion in the late 1980s, to $2.3 trillion in 1997 – this notwithstanding the massive debt service remittances, amounting to over $2 trillion, from these countries to their creditors during the ten years up to the end of 1997. Interest payments alone devour a quarter of the indebted countries’ exports.
Obscenities of excess and marginalisation of the poor
What is more, the gap between the poorest fifth of the world’s population and the richest fifth has widened dramatically from 30 to 1 in 1960, to 61 to 1 in 1991, and 74 to 1 in 1997.
Be it said in passing that in 1820,
“the ratio in living standards between the very richest and poorest countries was 3 to 1. But then modern economic growth
[read colonialist loot and imperialist plunder – HB]
took hold: by 1913 the ratio had risen to 11 to 1 …”
(A world divided, Martin Wolf,
More than 80 countries today have lower incomes per head than a decade ago. In Sub-Saharan Africa many countries have lower incomes per head than in 1970. What is more, most poor countries are heavily reliant for foreign exchange upon the export of primary commodities (in the case of Sub-Saharan Africa exports account for 30% of the GDP compared with the average of 19% of the GDP in the case of the rich countries belonging to the OECD), whose real prices have dropped 45% below the level of the 1980s – and 10% below the level reached in 1932 during the Great Depression. As a result of these underlying processes, an earlier Human Development Report estimates that the giant imperialist monopolies, banks and governments of the rich countries are effectively robbing poor countries of $500 billion a year through falling real commodity prices and high interest rates. Based on inferior credit ratings set by the sharks of the banking fraternity in the imperialist countries, poor countries are charged interest rates four times as high as those demanded of the rich countries.
Three of the world’s richest billionaires – Bill Gates, Robson Walton (of the American Wal-Mart family) and the Sultan of Brunei – have assets equal to the combined GDP of all the least-developed countries with their hundreds of million of inhabitants. According to the Forbes magazine, the combined wealth of the top 10 billionaires adds up to $266 billion (8 times the figure of a decade ago).
leader of 22 June, 1999,
“Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft and the richest man in the world, is said to be worth $90 billion, equal to the combined wealth of the 47 richest people in the US in 1989”.
No wonder, then, that in 1997, the year in which Bill Gates was supposed to have doubled his wealth from $18 billion to $39 billion, Douglas Mattern, President of the Association of World Citizens, observed that
“It would take $100,000-a-year engineer in Silicon Valley 200,000 years to make what Gates made last year”
. Three of the richest shareholders of Microsoft – Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer – have more assets, $149 billion, than the combined GDP of the 43 least-developed countries with their 600 million people! The wealth of a mere 225 billionaires adds up to $1,000 billion, which exceeds the combined income of half the world’s people. On the other hand, the share of the poorest one-fifth of the world’s people in global income declined from a miserable 2.3% in 1960 to an unimaginably meagre 1.4% in 1991, down to the present day 1.3%.
And this process continues unabated. The globalisation of the world economy, far from improving the lives of billions of ordinary people around the world, as its protagonists, the giant imperialist monopolies and their political and economic spokesmen, would have us believe, is leading to further and ever-accelerating polarisation, with greater and greater
“accumulation of wealth at one pole”
and increasing accumulation of poverty,
“misery, agony of toil, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole, i.e. on the side of the class that produces its own product in the form of capital”
In just four years (1994-98), the net wealth of the world’s richest 200 people, more than doubled from $440 billion to $1,042. A quarter of these super-rich come from the poor countries, 3 from the former Soviet Union, sitting pretty on the loot of Soviet people’s wealth, and 16 from the Arab nations. In 1994 Mexico provided 24 billionaires; Mexico’s richest man had a net worth of $6.6 billion in 1995, equal to the income of the 17 million poorest Mexicans.
In the spring of 1999, Merrill Lynch, the investment bank, and Genimi-Consulting, a management consultancy, produced the World Wealth Report. In this Report, these two firms say that the world’s estimated 6 million millionaires “
have shrugged off the effects of last year’s financial turmoil and are getting richer by the day”. Their research found that the wealth held by “high net worth individuals with more than $1 million (£616,000) of financial assets grew last year
[1998 – HB]
by 12 per cent to $21,600 billion (£13,320 billion)”. The Report goes on to project “a steady rise to $32,700 billion by the end of 2003” in the wealth of these 6 million darlings of fortune – a growth “which is expected to attract more firms into the lucrative market for private banking and wealth management services
In parallel with this, globalisation has made for the unprecedented concentration of wealth in the hands of just a few score of giant Multinational Corporations, all of them, with the odd exception, from a handful of imperialist countries. Of the world’s 100 largest economies today, 50 are countries and 50 are giant corporations. The latter are engaged in a frenzied struggle for maximum profits through mass redundancies, cost-cutting, tax avoidance, use of cheap labour, deregulation, rationalisation, export of capital, and mergers and acquisitions.
In view of these facts, even the Human Development Report (HDR)is obliged to observe that:
“The new rules of globalisation – and the players writing them – focus on integrating global markets, neglecting the needs of people that markets cannot meet. The process is concentrating power and marginalising the poor, both countries and people”.
This is merely a confirmation of the findings of the 1997 HDR, which concluded that globalisation
“is proceeding largely for the benefit of the dynamic and powerful countries. While in international commerce, it has increased the subordination of the developing to the developed world, in the internal functioning of nation-states, globalisation has led to shrinkage in state involvement in national life which has exposed the poor to sudden shocks especially in the third world countries”.
The same Report went on to observe
: “Since the publication of last year’s Human Development Report the recorded number of billionaires in the world has increased from 358 to 447, with the value of their combined assets now exceeding the combined incomes for the poorest 50 per cent of the world’s people, up from 45 per cent of the year before. These are obscenities of excesses in a world where 160 million children are malnourished, 840 million people live without secure sources of water and 1.2 billion lack access to safe drinking water”.
The consumption of a child lucky to be born in any one of the rich countries is 30-50 times greater than that of a child born in the poor countries. The rich countries spend $126 billion a year on perfume, $17 billion on pet food; in 1998 the US alone spent $8 billion on cosmetics; Europe spends $11 billion a year on ice cream, and Japan spends $35 billion on “business entertainment”, i.e., bribing and corruption; the global corporate spending on advertising, design and packaging adds up to more than $600 billion a year. And yet, it would take no more than $9 billion a year to provide safe water and sanitation, and $13 billion a year to provide basic health and nutrition to the poorest half of the world’s population. The HDR calculates the cost of overcoming poverty and providing essential social services in the underdeveloped countries at $80 billion a year over the next decade – a sum less than the net wealth of the 7 largest billionaires, according to the Report.
Aim of capital is not satisfying human wants
But capitalism would not be capitalism if it could use the vast wealth at its disposal for the elimination of poverty and improving the standard of life of people, for it must never be forgotten that the capitalist is
“only capital personified. His soul is the soul of capital. But capital has one single life impulse, the tendency to create value and surplus-value, to make its constant factor, the means of production, absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus labour.
“Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks …” (K.Marx,
. Vol.1, p.233).
“… the aim of capital is not to minister to certain wants, but to produce profits … a rift must continually ensue between the limited dimensions of consumption under capitalism and a production which forever tends to exceed this immanent barrier. … How could there otherwise be a shortage of demand for the very commodities which the mass of the people lack…? This is possible only because in this specific interrelation the surplus product assumes a form in which its owner cannot offer it for consumption, unless it first reconverts itself into capital for him. … The contradiction of the capitalist mode of production … lies precisely in its tendency towards an absolute development of the productive forces, which continually come into conflict with the specific CONDITIONS of production in which capital moves, and alone can move”
. Vol.3, pp.256-57).
Far from taking steps to banish world poverty, which is fully feasible today in view of the marvel of present-day technological advances which have brought about a gigantic growth in the productivity of human labour, which our ancestors could only dream of, monopoly capitalism, through its financial and commercial institutions, such as the IMF (rightly known as the Institution of Misery and Famine), the World Bank and WTO, is incessantly busy taking steps, each of which is calculated to deepen further the misery, poverty, agony of toil and degradation of billions of people around the world. Since the collapse of the USSR, it has managed to turn the UN into the colonial office of imperialism. If that proves insufficient, then there is always the naked armed might of imperialism, with the Neo-Nazi NATO alliance at its head, as is shown by the recent genocidal war waged by it against tiny Yugoslavia and the continuing air war against tiny Iraq by the Anglo-American imperialist blood suckers.
The world spends a huge $780 billion a year on armaments and in other military expenditure. Of this enormous sum, US imperialism alone accounts for nearly $300 billion a year – a sum which is greater than the combined military expenditure of the 6 most powerful nations after the US. The reason is not difficult to fathom. Notwithstanding hypocritical and honeyed phrases about peace and human rights, US imperialism, through NATO, and in cynical disregard of national sovereignty, international frontiers and the rules governing intercourse among civilised nations, is determined to attack any weak nation that dare defy its diktat; subjecting it to the devastation of massive bombing by invisible attackers; is determined to resist the demands of its rival imperialists in furious struggle over the natural resources of the world and for avenues of export of capital and markets for goods, especially the export of the products of the lucrative arms industry. It is increasingly, and arrogantly, treating the rest ofthe world as just the Euro-Atlantic periphery of NATO. While wanting to disarm other countries, especially poor nations, US imperialism is allocating further huge sums of money to its military spending; while trying to prevent other countries, especially those from the third world, from acquiring nuclear weapons, it is spending more money than ever before on the maintenance and development of its already enormous stock of deadly nuclear weapons, even threatening to break the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty with Russia through development and deployment of a missile defence system; while threatening Iraq and the DPRK with dire consequences should they develop weapons of mass destruction, US imperialism is busy arming itself further still with these weapons.
The above facts bear eloquent testimony to the plain truth that capitalism today has absolutely nothing to offer, except misery, servitude, grinding poverty and extremes of degradation to the vast majority of the inhabitants of our planet. The vast masses of the poor nations, for their part, are far from accepting with resignation the role allotted to them by imperialism. By its intensified exploitation, oppression and coercion, imperialism is provoking fierce resistance on the part of hundreds of millions of people in the vast continents of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The whole of Latin-America, the Middle East and large parts of Asia are fast developing into raging infernos, whose fires cannot but end up by consuming this beast, imperialism, which for so long has drenched humanity in blood.
Increasing misery in the imperialist countries
Not only has capitalism nothing to offer to the peoples of the poor and oppressed countries, it has increasingly less to offer to the peoples in the heartlands of imperialism as well.
In the 1980s, according to the latest HDR (1999), in the UK there was 60% increase in the number of families living below the poverty line. According to the first ever Audit of Poverty in the United Kingdom, published towards the end of 1999, twelve million people, representing nearly a quarter of the total population, and three times the 1979 figure, are living in “relative poverty”. Taking the family as a unit, the Audit defines a family as poor if its income is less than half the average household income. Of these 12 million, four million are children, and, according to the Audit, one in every five UK children is living in a family that has no work.
Dominic Hobson, in his book
‘The Wealth of the Nation’
(Harper Collins, 1999), says that
“Government statistics show that the standard of living of the poorest 10% has fallen since 1979. … The gap between rich and poor has widened since the Conservatives came to office in 1979; one study estimated that by 1992 the average income of the top tenth households was 30 times that of the bottom tenth. … The Institute for Fiscal Studies reckoned that the richest 10% had as much income as the whole bottom half of the working population put together. The gap in earnings between a main board director at a leading plc and a waitress is now about £9,850 a week”
He adds that
“About £2 in every £3 ‘earned’ by the poorest households actually comes from means-tested benefits”.
Whereas the share of the national income of the top tenth was 21% in 1979, by 1994-95 it had increased to 27%, representing an increase in real income of 68% during this period (1979-95). On the other hand, if the share of national income which fell to the bottom tenth was 4% in 1979, it had declined to 2.2% by 1995, representing a decrease in real income of 8%.
The share of national income of the poorest 20% fell from nearly 10% in 1979 to 6.3% in 1995. And the gap grows with each passing year, representing a huge transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.
For the first time since the end of the war, vast layers of the working class are being sucked into the abyss of absolute poverty, hopelessness, misery and despair. The evils of capitalism, and the need for socialism, have never been so obvious.
The gap between the rich and poor continues to grow in almost every rich country, particularly in Britain and the USA. In the rich countries of Europe, North America, Japan and Australasia, real wages and living standards have been depressed to such an extent that 100 million people live below the poverty line fixed at half the average individual median income.
In Japan, which was until recently regarded as the wonder of all capitalist wonders, a country supposedly totally immune from cyclical recessions, characteristic of capitalism, 32,863 persons committed suicide in 1998 (up 35% from the previous year), according to a survey published in October 1999 by the country’s National Police Agency. The Agency attributes the dramatic rise in the suicide rate to prolonged recession and the continuing corporate restructuring, which have heaped misery on the mases and eroded their living conditions. Over the next ten years corporate Japan plans to reduce its workforce by 14% – amounting to 1,400,200 job losses.
In the United States, the richest capitalist country and the leader of the ‘free’ world, millions of people are subjected to the torments of hunger. The Times of 15 October, 1999, reports a government study by the US agriculture department, whose conclusions are based on annual household surveys conducted by the US Census Bureau, according to which 9.7% of US households were “food insecure” during the three-year period in question (1996-98). In New Mexico, the worst affected state, 15.1% are either hungry or threatened with hunger. Let alone the South, where hunger continues to persist as ever, even California and the North West, often portrayed as the land of plenty, feature in the list of the hungriest states. All this at a time when the US economy is said to have enjoyed the longest ever period of prosperity. In the words of
“Even at a time when the economy is buoyant, at least 10 per cent of the households in 18 states and Washington DC, the nation’s capital, are going hungry or do not have consistent access to adequate food, the Agriculture Department said”
(‘Million of Americans are going hungry’).
“It may be the land of plenty, but millions of its population are going hungry”, adding that “The government study offers support for what is one of the most shocking sights in the world’s richest country: the rows of leaking mobile homes and shacks, complete with rusting kitchen appliances resting idle on the porch, sheltering people who have too little to eat”.
According to the
New York Tim
es, on any given night in Los Angles County there are officially 12,400 homelss family members, mostly children, competing for 4,890 shelter beds the county has on offer (cited in the Feb. issue of People’s Tribune, a progressive US journal). And what happens in Los Angeles County, one of the richest, is repeated throughout the US on a grand scale. As the US billionaires watch their investments grow, tens of millions of Americans are stuck at, or sinking below, the absurdly low “poverty line” of $13,000 a year for a family of three, while nearly 30 million American are going hungry. What further indictment can one level against a system which has nothing on offer for tens of millions of people other than hunger and poverty – not because there is no food, but because there is too much of it. This grotesque absurdity arises because, under the conditions of capitalism, the means of production cannot function unless they have first been transformed into capital, into the means of exploiting human labour power. And it is the necessity of this transformation which
“…alone forbids the means of production to function, workers to work and live”
The capitalist mode of production thus
“stands convicted of its own incapacity to further direct these productive forces themselves. On the other hand, these productive forces, with increasing energy, press forward to the removal of the existing contradiction, to the abolition of their quality as capital, to the PRACTICAL RECOGNITION OF THEIR CHARACTER AS SOCIAL PRODUCTIVE FORCES”
As can been seen, even in its heartlands, imperialism is driving several tens of millions of people to unemployment, poverty, desperation and suicide; it is turning the contented majority into a minority. In doing so it is intensifying the contradiction between labour and capital, between the working class and the imperialist bourgeoisie – a contradiction which is but a reflection of the contradiction between the productive forces and the relations of production, that is, between social production and private appropriation. The bourgeois relations of production have well and truly turned into a brake on the productive forces – an impediment in the latter’s development. To transform, through the seizure of state power, the socialised means of production into public property, to free them from the character of capital they have borne hitherto, is the historical mission of the proletariat, for their deliverance from the bonds imposed upon them by the capitalist mode of production
“is the one pre-condition for an unbroken, constantly accelerated development of the productive forces, and there with it for a practically unlimited increase of production itself”
That even the bourgeoisie is aware of its own economic, political and intellectual bankruptcy, can be gleaned occasionally from the pages of the serious press. Thus, for instance, the
of 27 Nov. 99 in its leading article, written a couple of days before the WTO meeting, which ended in chaos both inside and outside of the Conference Hall, while making the obligatory (for a bourgeois) assertion that
“communism may be a dying political creed”,
was nevertheless obliged to add
“but capitalism still
has it enemies. Next week’s Seattle meeting of the World Trade Organisation is set to be swamped by thousands of protesters. Their aims are varied, but all agree on one thing: the new trade round must be stopped before it gets started. The backlash against global capitalism is gaining force and power. …The protests have a real importance as a warning signal that public unease with capitalism and the forces of globalisation is reaching worrying levels”
. (‘The crisis of capitalism’)
Of course, the
, not surprisingly, concludes with the assurance that
“for all the pain a more open and integrated global economy
[i.e. unhindered imperialist rampage – HB]
can cause, it is still of overwhelming benefit to the world economy. Attempts to reverse the trend would be a serious threat to the prosperity of countries at all stages of development”
. Ask that of the tens of millions in Asia still suffering from the ‘currency crisis’ which began in Thailand in 1997 and has since continued its devastation in all the ‘Tiger’ economies. Ask that of the unemployed in the imperialist countries, who in their tens of millions have lost their livelihoods thanks to the export of capital abroad in imperialism’s never-ending chase for maximum profits. Ask that of the peoples of the former USSR and the east European socialist countries, whose world of security, cultural fulfilment and freedom from unemployment and starvation has been replaced by a truly precarious and miserable existence, thanks to the restoration of capitalism and its ‘integration’ into the “open global economy”.
Capitalist restoration in the eastern bloc
It had been the constant refrain of the bourgeoisie that socialism in the former USSR and other east European countries had deprived the peoples of these countries of their freedom and shackled their economic development. And, therefore, only a return to (bourgeois) democracy and the ‘free market’ could guarantee them unprecedented prosperity. And the results of this restoration? Take the former USSR: production, as well as per capita income, has more than halved; there has been a precipitous fall in living standards; male life expectancy fell by a spectacular 6 years (from 64 to 58) between 1990 and 1994; a free health service, the education system, with is proliferation of creches, kindergartens and holiday camps, which were a source of legitimate pride to the Soviet people, have all but disappeared. From being the second largest, the Russian economy has been reduced to the size of the economy of the tiny Netherlands; unemployment, which had not been seen in the USSR since 1932, is rampant with an estmated 40 million unemployed in the territory of the former USSR. The wealth produced by the honest toil of the Soviet working class has been stolen by a handful of kleptocrats and mafiosi, while the mass of people are reduced to penury; fraternal harmony and friendship have given way to fratricidal warfare; prostitution, alcoholism, drug abuse and drug trafficking, organised and violent street crime, homelessness, and such other concomitants of the ‘free market’ have assumed epidemic proportions. In summary, a once great and mighty socialist USSR has been reduced to a third-rate capitalist country, burdened with a foreign debt to the tune of nearly $200 billion, on the one hand, and bleeding white through capital flight of approximately $300 billion over the last 10 years, on the other hand.
According to data released in the autumn of 1999, of the 146 million Russians today, 51.7 million, constituting 35.3% of the population, live below the official subsistence minimum and its population continues to decline at an alarming rate of approximately a million a year through a mixture of declining birth and increasing death rates.
And Russia’s experience since the restoration of capitalism is repeated in all the countries of eastern Europe, with women and children being the worst sufferers. According to a UNICEF report, released in November 1999, about 20% of the 150 million children from East Europe and the former USSR have become homeless. And, according to the 1999 HDR, sexual slavery has returned to these countries with a vengeance. Says the Report
“An estimated 500,000 women are trafficked each year from Eastern Europe and the CIS (former republics of the Soviet Union) to Western Europe. An estimated 15,000 Russians and East Europeans work in Germany’s red light districts. In the Netherlands 57% of the trafficked women are under 21”
So much, then, for the wonderful freedom and prosperity which were supposed to have been delivered by the restoration of capitalism. Today the peoples of these countries, in particular that of the former USSR, who have witnessed, taken part in, and benefited from, the glorious achievements of socialism, are justly seething with anger. It is only a question of time before they overthrow the rule of their kelptocracies, which lack all legitimacy, and wipe off the shame of capitalist restoration and misery from the face of their societies. Thus the contradiction between the thieving fraternity who rule these countries and the masses of people is becoming more acute by the day.
More than that. Although the treachery of social democracy prevented the spread of revolution from Russia to western countries such as Germany, nonetheless the victory of the October Revolution, the successes of socialist construction, indeed the very existence of the USSR, gave a tremendous impetus to the national liberation and proletarian movements. The bourgeoisie of the imperialist countries, especially in the aftermath of the Second World War, during which the superiority of the Soviet system was palpably on display by the brilliant victories of the Soviet army and the smashing of the powerful Nazi war machine, was obliged to improve the conditions of the working class in an effort to assuage the widespread anti-capitalist sentiments among wide layers of the proletariat. From the point of view of living conditions, it was the best period in the history of the proletariat of the imperialist countries.
Now that the Keynesian consensus, itself a product of very special circumstances, has broken down, and the Soviet Union has disappeared, the bourgeoisie of the imperialist countries feels emboldened enough to attack the working class at home (unemployment and cuts in social wage) and oppressed people abroad (for instance, war against Yugoslavia and Iraq). Going through this difficult and painful period, one cannot help remembering the following words uttered by Stalin, at the 7th Enlarged Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Comintern, in his controversy against the counter-revolutionary ‘left’ opposition in the CPSU(B):
“What would happen if capital succeeded in smashing the Republic of Soviets? There would set in an era of the blackest reaction in all the capitalist and colonial countries. The working class and the oppressed peoples would be seized by the throat, the positions of international communism will be lost”.
Now that the Soviet Republic is no more, that blackest period of reaction has set in, and the working class and the oppressed people have indeed been seized by the throat, revolutionaries can only look back with fondness and nostalgia at the old USSR and wish for its restoration. Equally, only the bourgeoisie and its agents in the working class – social democracy, revisionists and Trotskyists – have reason to gloat over the disappearance of the Soviet Union.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, US imperialism emerged stronger than any other imperialist power and moved quickly to assume and consolidate its leadership over all the other imperialist countries, which had been devastated, and whose economies had been shattered, by the war. The existence of the powerful bloc of socialist countries, the victories of the Chinese, Korean and Indo-Chinese revolutions and the rising tide of the anti-imperialist liberation movements, and the fear of the contagion of socialism spreading further west, struck terror in the heart of the West-European and Japanese imperialist bourgeoisie. They were therefore inclined to accept, without too much questioning the leadership of US imperialism, for what was at stake was the very existence of imperialism. There was thus a great degree of cohesion in the imperialist camp.
However, the building of powerful economies by the countries of West Europe and Japan, and the collapse of the USSR and East European socialist countries, has served to reactivate the centrifugal forces in the camp of imperialism. Freed from the worry of the USSR and her allies, various imperialist countries have reverted to the norm of each looking after number one – with each trying to get the better of the others in the frenzied struggle for cheap raw materials, markets, spheres of influence, territory and avenues for the export of capital. The crisis of overproduction on a world scale is forcing them to fight their respective corner with the utmost of ferocity. Hence the disputes between the European Union and the US over bananas (which none of them even produces), over steel, GM foods, hormone-treated meat; hence the constant allegations by Europe and the US against ‘unfair’ Japanese practices which supposedly exclude European and American goods from the Japanese market.
Parallel with this, barely disguised, mini-trade war, resulting in the shambles at the recently held Seattle trade round of the WTO, there are military developments, which cannot be ignored by anyone who is serious about grasping present-day reality. Leading members of the European Union, including Britain of all countries, are committed to the development of a common defence and foreign policy, to acquiring
“the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crisis”.
In short, the European bourgeoisie is limbering up to fight what Delors called “the resource wars of the 21st century” i.e., a fight for the redivision of the world, backed by credible forces which can rival that of any other imperialist bloc. Since the collapse of the eastern bloc, a huge area, possessed of vast resources and a highly-educated and scientifically-trained workforce, is suddenly up for grabs, whetting the appetite of the various imperialist powers and blocs. They are all, without exception, salivating at the prospect of grabbing the largest and juiciest part of this dazzling prize. And, in the final analysis, such questions are not decided peacefully over a drink. As is shown by the recent conflict in Kosovo, the imperialist powers, formally allies under the NATO alliance, are hopelessly divided, for their interests are opposed to each other’s. They are allies and enemies of each other at the same time. They cannot help falling out with each other anymore than the attempt by every capitalist, when times are bad, to reduce his own losses and pass them on to another, can fail to become
“a fight among hostile brothers
” (Marx, Capital, Vol.3, p.253).
How long it will take, and precisely in what circumstances, and in what configuration, for the imperialist powers to come to blows, no one can precisely tell. One thing, however, is certain that the inter-imperialist contradiction is intensifying at a speed not seen since before the Second World War and, unless frustrated by the revolutionary upsurge of the proletariat, is bound in the end to lead to war, for war cannot be eliminated while imperialism lasts
. “To eliminate the inevitability of war, it is necessary to abolish imperialism”
Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR
, FLP, Peking, 1976, p.37).
A system rotten to the core
In the light of the foregoing, it is clear that capitalism in its imperialist stage is rotten to the core – it is decadent, parasitic and moribund capitalism, which has nothing to offer to four-fifths of humanity; it is a system under which speculative operations, amounting to $3 trillion a day, are devastating the lives of billions of people and shattering the economies of scores of countries around the world. Such an architecture is beyond repair; it needs to be demolished and replaced by a system which gives primacy to production for the satisfaction of human needs.
To the tiny minority of the world’s population, it offers riches and comfort, but it rewards the vast majority with unemployment, deprivation, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation and war. The proletariat and the oppressed people are faced with this choice:
“Either place yourself at the mercy of capital, eke out a wretched existence and sink lower and lower, or adopt a new weapon – this is the alternative imperialism puts before the vast masses of the proletariat. Imperialism brings the working class to revolution”. (Stalin
, Collected Works, Vol.6, pp.74-5)
However, rotten though this system is, it will not fall by itself. The working class has to get rid of it. For this, two preliminary conditions are essential. First, the working class must acquire a thorough grasp of the science of revolution – Marxism-Leninism – for
“without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement”
and “…practice gropes in the dark if its path is not illumined by revolutionary theory”
(Stalin). The importance of revolutionary theory
“cannot be insisted upon too strongly at a time when the fashionable preaching of opportunism goes hand in hand with an infatuation for the narrowest forms of practical activity”
(Lenin). What a misfortune, an immeasurable disadvantage it is for the workers to be lacking in a sense of revolutionary theory, as Engels pointed out so long ago, may be seen
“…from the indifference towards all theory, which is one of the main reasons why the English working-class movement crawls along so slowly…”
We British Marxists, in view of the history of the British working-class movement, with its long tradition of contempt for theory, which has wrought mischief and confusion in the movement, have a special reason for heeding Engels’ warning and his advice to the affect that it is the duty of the socialist proletariat and its leadership
“…to gain an ever clearer insight into all theoretical questions, to free themselves more and more from the influence of traditional phrases inherited from the old outlook, and constantly to keep in mind that SOCIALISM, SINCE IT HAS BECOME A SCIENCE, DEMANDS THAT IT BE PURSUED AS A SCIENCE, i.e., THAT IT BE STUDIED…”
The Peasant War in Germany
) (my emphasis – HB)
Exposure of opportunism
In this context, it is one of our important tasks to make a thorough exposure of opportunism and its chief representative in the working-class movement – the Labour Party with its revisionist and Trotskyist hangers-on. We must take to the proletarian masses the message that the Labour Party never has been, in not now, and will never in the future be, a party of the British proletariat; that it was formed to defend the interests of the privileged upper stratum of the working class; that since the privileged position of this upper stratum – the labour aristocracy – depended on the loot from the Empire and the extraction of imperialist super-profits from abroad, Labour from its inception was committed to the defence of the British Empire and British Imperialism alike, for it could not defend the one (privileges of the labour aristocracy) without defending the other (British Imperialism); that, therefore, Labour has, throughout its existence, as its record over a century provides ample proof, been an imperialist party – a
“bourgeois labour party”,
to use Engels’ remarkably profound expression.
Of course the composition of the labour aristocracy has changed, but the labour aristocracy remains, sharing with the old labour aristocracy its total contempt for the poor, the deprived and the downtrodden at home and abroad, its total disregard for the plight of the most disadvantaged and cruelly exploited sections of the population here in Britain or in the rest of the world. In fact, such destitution is a necessary condition for the maintenance of its privileged and parasitic existence, which explains its philistinism, the depth of its vile subservience, and its contemptible sycophancy in the service of British imperialism.
And yet we are told by the revisionists and Trotskyists that the Labour Party is the mass party of the British working class with the potential to unify the British proletariat in the latter’s struggle for social emancipation. The Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and the New Communist Party (NCP), not to speak of the so-called ‘left’ in the Labour Party, keep on telling us to vote Labour; they keep on advising us not to break ranks with Labour. They are most vociferous in denouncing the Socialist Labour Party (SLP) and its General Secretary, Arthur Scargill, for having effected an organisational break with Labour, on the one hand, and labelling it as social democratic and reformist, on the other hand. But they are unable to answer this simple question constantly put by Arthur Scargill to the so-called ‘left’ in the Labour Party:
“How can you continue to remain members of a party which supports the free market, private health care and education, the monarchy, the House of Lords and the entire rotten, corrupt capitalist system?” (‘Class War Over, Claims Tony Blair’,
Economic basis of opportunism
Further, it is our duty to explain to the working class the economic basis of the phenomenon of opportunism; to explain that the temporary victory of opportunism in the working-class movement of Britain (indeed of all the imperialist countries) is by no means accidental; that there are deep and profound economic reasons underlying the success of opportunism. It is our task to explain to the working class that imperialism long ago engendered a split in the working class, for it has singled out a handful of exceptionally rich and powerful states who plunder the whole world and who are able to use a portion of the super-profits thus derived to bribe the labour leaders and the upper stratum of the working class
“who are quite philistine in their mode of life, in the size of their earnings and in their entire outlook”
and act as the principal
of the bourgeoisie and as
“the real AGENTS OF THE BOURGEOISIE in the working-class movement, the labour lieutenants of the capitalist class, real channels of reformism and chauvinism”
(Lenin, Preface to the French edition of
Imperialism, the Highest stage of Capitalism
Out of the vast sums flowing into the imperialist heartlands from the super-exploitation of billions of oppressed people, out of this
is it possible for the bourgeoisie to throw at least a small portion
“as a sop to labour leaders, to the labour aristocracy, in order to bribe them in various ways. The whole thing reduces itself precisely to bribery. This is done in a thousand different ways: by raising culture in the largest centres, by creating educational institutions, creating thousands of soft jobs for the leaders of the co-operative societies, for the trade-union leaders and parliamentary leaders. This is done wherever modern, civilised, capitalist relations exist. All these billions of super-profits serve as the economic basis upon which opportunism in the working-class movement rests”
(Lenin, Speech to the Second Congress of the Comintern, 19 July 1920).
Ignoring overwhelming evidence, in total disregard of reality, many revisionist and Trotskyist organisations (especially the Trotskyite SWP), saturated as they are with a spirit of vile subservience to the imperialist bourgeoisie, continue to deny the existence of this split in the working class, for this denial is absolutely essential to their support for the Labour Party as the party of the entire working class: for recognition of the split in the working class could not fail to force on them also the need to recognise that Labour represents the interests of British imperialism and of the privileged layers of the working class. In denying this split, the revisionist renegades, the Trotskyist counter-revolutionaries and the Labour ‘left’, are also denying, albeit implicitly, the imperialist character of British capitalism.
In the aftermath of the last war, in the exceptional conditions which made for a phenomenal growth of the British (indeed of all the imperialist countries) economy, and with it the Keynesian consensus, it was possible for a short period to reconcile the interests of the labour aristocracy and those of the lower stratum of the working class; it was then possible, while safeguarding the interests of the labour aristocracy (and imperialism, it goes without saying), to provide an adequate and rising standard of life for the wider working class. But the continuing relative decline of British imperialism put an end to the Keynesian consensus by the mid-70s, and there with it to full employment, universal benefits, the National Health Service – all of which have been under attack since then. From then on vast layers of the working class have been under attack. Today, the privileges of the upper stratum can only be protected at the cost of the vast lower layers of the working class. The Labour Party, far from giving support to the victims of the latest capitalist offensive, is leading this offensive. Labour does not even support the economic, trade-union struggles of the working class, let alone the question of the social emancipation of the proletariat.
The trade-union leadership, composed by and large of the privileged upper stratum of the working class, is increasingly moving away from the collective representation of the working class to concentrate on the provision of personal services which can only benefit those enjoying higher-than-average incomes. This same leadership fears like the plague any action which might transcend the boundaries of Draconian anti-working class legislation put on the statute book by the bourgeoisie through its parliament over the last 20 years. Most significant industrial struggles have collapsed in the face of police violence, or drowned under the weight of legal cretinism or been simply betrayed by the TUC leadership.
One exception to this was the heroic coal strike of 1984-5. During this year-long strike, the miners, led by the most courageous, the most militant and most incorruptible leadership, carried the torch of struggle on behalf of the entire working class against unemployment and for better conditions, and challenged the power of capital to treat workers as so much disposable trash. In doing so they revived all that is noble, heroic and self-sacrificing – the spirit of collectivism – in the long history of the struggle of the British proletariat. But, by the same act, they roused the frenzy of the bourgeoisie, the furies of private interest. More than that, they roused the wrath of the Labour and TUC leaderships, who feared like death the miners’ victory, for by their example the miners threatened to infect other sections of the working class with a spirit of defiance and rebellion against the dictates of monopoly capitalism. So the Labour/TUC leadership joined forces with the Thatcher government, the National Coal Board, the police and intelligence services, the judiciary, the bourgeois media and the blacklegs from the Nottinghamshire coalfields in order to isolate and defeat the miners. In the end this ‘exotic’ range of forces arrayed against the miners proved too much: the miners, deserted by other sections of the working class, thanks to the treachery of social democracy, were starved and beaten – literally beaten – back to work. The latest examples of these betrayals are the 500 Liverpool dockers and the 53 Hillingdon Hospital strikers, who have been deserted by their Union, the TGWU and UNISON respectively.
In view of this, it is perfectly clear that Labour, far from being the mass party of the working class (as the Troto-revisionist outfits, these contemptible renegades from socialism would have us believe), is, on the contrary, the party of imperialism and of a privileged stratum of the working class, which supports imperialism to the hilt, for its privileges and conditions of existence depend on the extraction of super-profits from abroad and the intensified exploitation of the vast lower layers of the proletariat at home. The task of the socialists is to recognise the split in the working class, to fight against the “
bourgeois labour party”,
“to go down LOWER and DEEPER, to the real masses”
, for “
this is the meaning and the whole content of the struggle against opportunism”
. It is our task to
“explain to the masses the inevitability and the necessity of breaking with opportunism”
and to unmask
“the hideousness of National-Liberal-Labour politics and not to cover them up”
, for this is the only Marxist line to be followed in the British, as well as the world, proletarian movement. (All quotations in this paragraph are taken from Lenin’s pamphlet, Imperialism and the Split in Socialism).
In view of the above, one may gauge the degeneration of the so-called Marxist-Leninists of the New Communist Party (NCP) from the fact that instead of explaining to the masses the inevitability and necessity of breaking with this imperialist Labour Party, these opportunists preach conciliation with it, asking those members of the Labour Party who might be conscience stricken and tempted to leave not to get frustrated and angry, not to walk out of the Labour Party, not to leave the
“assets that generations of workers struggled to amass in the hands of the gatecrashers and careerists”.
Those on the left who advocate an irrevocable breach with Labour are accused of assisting the right-wing of the Labour Party, characterised as defeatists and
“prophets of despair”,
whose actions are to be blamed for delays in
“the onset of the struggle to smash Blairism and democratise the Labour Party”
(‘Keep What’s Ours’, leading article in The New Worker, 7.01.00).
There you have it – the NCP denouncing those preaching a break with a party of irrefutable imperialist credentials, failing to grasp that the Labour Party has always belonged to the rightwing, that is is the so-called ‘left’ who are the gatecrashers.
Under attack, the vast masses of the working class are bound to fight back. It is the job of the communists to organise them outside of, and in opposition to, social democracy. This is not a job that can be trusted to the ‘left’ wing of social democracy, to wit the Trotskyite and revisionist gentry, who are marked by a staggering accumulation of corruption and filth through decades of opportunism and compromise with social democracy, and whose objects of concern, too, are the privileged sections of the working class and the petty-bourgeois strata. It is a job that can only be accomplished by making a definite break with the ideology and organisational forms of social democracy. Genuine Marxist alone are capable of accomplishing this task.
We must fight tooth and nail against all forms of opportunism, for
“…the fight against imperialism is a sham and a fraud unless it is inseparably bound up with the fight against opportunism”
(Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism).
A Party of the Proletariat
Second, in order to bring down capitalism, the proletariat needs a party of its own, which is strong and disciplined, for
“in its struggle for power the proletariat has no other weapon but organisation. Disunited by the rule of anarchic competition in the bourgeois world, ground down by forced labour for capital, constantly thrust back to the ‘lower depths’ of utter destitution, savagery and degeneration, the proletariat can become, and inevitably will become, an invincible force when its ideological unification by the principles of Marxism is consolidated by the material unity of an organisation which will weld millions of toilers into an army of the working class”
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
In the fight against the omnipotence of giant monopolies, giant banks, the financial oligarchy – the robber barons of capitalist imperialism – the customary trade-union and parliamentary methods of struggle alone are inadequate. Only the Marxist-Leninist theory of revolution, of tactics and methods of organisation offer the road to salvation for the proletariat, which is faced with the stark choice of either meekly placing itself at the mercy of capital, eking out a wretchedly miserable existence and sinking ever lower, or adopting a new weapon. This is the stark alternative with which imperialism confronts the working class; it brings the working class to revolution.
All of us in the SLP have made a break with social democracy, we have begun to spread the knowledge of revolutionary theory among our own ranks, and, through them, to the working class. Our work and our very existence are a living exposure of the support-Labour opportunist coterie of the revisionists, Trotskyites and ‘left’ Labourites. Let us increase our efforts a thousand fold to build a truly revolutionary, strong and disciplined party, capable of inspiring the confidence and trust of tens of millions of proletarians, and leading them in the struggle for the social emancipation of the proletariat from the horrors of life under the rotten system of capitalism. The contradiction of capitalist society, that between social production and private appropriation, can only be solved by the proletariat seizing state power and transforming the socialised means of production into public property, and organising production on a pre-determined plan for the satisfaction of the needs of society.
“To accomplish this act of universal emancipation”, in the memorable words of Engels,
“is the historical mission of the proletariat. To thoroughly comprehend the historical conditions and thus the very nature of this act, to impart to the now oppressed proletarian class a full knowledge of the conditions and of the meaning of the momentous act it is called upon to accomplish – this is the task of the theoretical expression of the proletarian movement, scientific socialism
Communism is the future of humanity
Notwithstanding the undoubtedly great reverses suffered by the world proletariat consequent upon the collapse of the USSR and the Eastern bloc, the future of humanity is socialism and communism. The bourgeoisie, it ideologues, its political representatives and hangers-on in the working-class movement (opportunists of the social democrat, revisionist and Trotskyist variety) are, with deliberate intent and malicious glee, using the developments in the former USSR and Eastern Europe as a pretext to malign communism and to destroy the faith of the working class in its own ability to not only destroy the old (capitalist) society, but also to build a new (socialist) society. It is not difficult to see that they are doing all this in the hope of condemning humanity to everlasting capitalist slavery.
“The chief endeavour of the bourgeoisie of all countries and of its hangers-on”, observed Stalin,
“is to kill in the working class faith in its own strength, faith in the possibility and the inevitability of its victory and thus to perpetuate capitalist slavery”.
So, when our present-day hangers-on of the bourgeoisie, in the name of spurious Marxism, greet with glee the counter-revolution in the former Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries, when they besmirch all the truly earthshaking achievements of socialism in these countries, they are merely carrying out the behests of the bourgeoisie, namely, to instil cynicism in the working class and kill in the latter faith in the inevitability of its victory. For these shameless ‘socialists’ the highest achievement of socialism is the election of an imperialist Labour Government.
The bourgeoisie, of course, has every interest and reason in representing the collapse of the Soviet Union as a collapse of communism – of Marxism-Leninism. Its class interests dictate that it presents Soviet reality, and the reasons for its reversal, in a distorted form.
“If geometrical axioms affected human interests
“, said Lenin
, “attempts would be made to refute them
, Marxism and Revisionism,
CW.Vol.15, April 1908).
For our part, we unhesitatingly declare that the reverses in the Soviet Union, far from being attributable to Marxism-Leninism, are solely the result of the complete departures from it, thanks to Khruschevite revisionism, which took hold of the CPSU from the latter half of the 1950s. Thus, what has collapsed is revisionism – not Marxism-Leninism. The collapse of the USSR was the culmination of a long process of revisionism in theory and practice of the CPSU which began with the Khruschevites coming to power. As long as the CPSU followed the victorious banner of Marxism-Leninism, there was no citadel that the USSR could not storm, no enemy that it could not defeat – from the building of socialism to the world-historic defeat of fascism in the last world war. As long ago as 1934, addressing the 17th Party Congress, Stalin had to occasion to emphasise this truth:
“To what does our Party owe its superiority? To the fact that it is a Marxist-Leninist Party. It owes it to the fact that it is guided in its work by the tenets of Marx, Engels, Lenin. There cannot be any doubt that as long as we remain true to these tenets, as long as we have this compass, we will achieve success in our work” (
Problems of Leninism,
Far from being ashamed, we are, on the contrary proud of the achievements of Soviet socialism, better than which humanity has not achieved thus far. We are proud of the magnificent and towering conquests of Soviet socialism. We Marxist-Leninists do not swim with every tide and adapt ourselves to every fashionable whim. Our cheerful optimism, as has been the attempt in this article to show, is based on a scientific understanding of this world and the laws of its development. Whatever the pressures from the hostile class, we assert that socialism and communism is the future of humanity, just as in his time Galileo, in the face of pressure from the feudal church authorities, declared: “[The earth]
[around the sun]”.
No matter how often our banner falls, we shall pick it up and hold it aloft. Humanity will not put up with the lot assigned to it by imperialism; it will break its chains, for there is no other way for it.
By way of greeting the 82nd anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, by way of closing the Second Millenium and welcoming the Third, and by way of calling for the victory of proletarian revolution all over the world, let me close with the following words of Lenin:
“Only a proletarian socialist revolution can lead humanity out of the deadlock created by imperialism and imperialist wars. No matter what difficulties the revolution may encounter, and in spite of temporary setbacks or waves of counter-revolution, the final victory of the proletariat is inevitable” (
Materials Relating to the Revision of the Party Programme
, April-May 1917)
“Let the ‘socialist’ snivellers croak, let the bourgeoisie rage and fume; only people who shut their eyes so as not to see, and stuff their ears so as not to hear, can fail to notice
” that capitalism has no future, for it has nothing to offer other than misery to the vast majority of humanity, that this
“wild beast, capitalism, which has drenched the earth in blood and reduced humanity to starvation and demoralisation”,
will be felled, that its end is
“near and inevitable, no matter how monstrous and savage its frenzy in the face of death”
(Quotes from Lenin,
, 29 June, 1918)
Nothing – not even the reverses and the counter-revolution in the former socialist countries – can detract from the truth and validity of the words I have just quoted.
“Imperialism is the eve of the social revolution of the proletariat”.
The twenty-first century shall be the century of the victory of communism – of Marxism-Leninism. In the words of the great Russian revolutionary democrat, Nicolai Chernychevsky,
“there shall be joy and festivities in our streets”.
Long live the Great October Socialist Revolution!
Long live Marxism-Leninism!
Forward to victory under the glorious banner of Marxism-Leninism!