Freitag, 2. November 2007

இரண்டாவது அனானியுடன் தியாகு விவாதம்

Anonym said... November 2007 22:18

அசுரன் என்றொரு மேதை, மார்க்சியம், ரஷ்ய வரலாறு, மேலும் உலக கம்யூனிசம் எல்லாவற்றிலும் கரைகண்டவர் தன் ப்ளாகில் ஸ்டாலினுக்குப் புகழாரம் சூடி மகிழ்கிறார். யாரைக் கொலை செய்தால் தம் 'புரட்சி' முன்னேறுவதாகக் கருதலாம் என்று அரசியல் நடத்தும் ஒருவரின் கூட்டம் பிறரைக் கண்டபடி பழி சாட்டும் வேடிக்கை ஒரு புறம் இருக்க, தம் ஸ்டாலின் புகழ் குறித்த கருத்துகளுக்கு ஆதாரமாக அவர் காட்டுவது யாரென்று பார்த்தால் இன்னொரு ஸ்டாலினிய வாதி- ஜ்யார்ஜ் தாம்ஸன் என்ற மூளை மழுங்கிய பிரிட்டிஷ் 'தத்துவாசிரியர்'. என்னடா இது, தமிழக மார்க்சிஸ்டு கட்சிகளில் ரஷ்ய வரலாற்றை ஒழுங்காகப் படித்தவர்களை விரல் விட்டு எண்ணலாமே, இவர் யாரிடம் போய் எல்லா சூட்சுமங்களையும் கற்று விட்டார் என்று யோசித்துக் கொண்டிருந்தேன்.
ஒரு மாணவர் ஜ்யார்ஜ் தாம்சனைப் பற்றி எழுதுவது இது.
மேற்கோள்:
Also published by Lawrence and Wishart is Marxism and Poetry, a 1945 pamphlet by George Thomson. This provides a convenient reference for the possible opinions of Marxist poets in the decades on either side of 1945. Thomson is the archetypal Stalinist. He dismisses all poetry since the Renaissance as a product of the bourgeois era; leaving folk-song, which is classless. Song is inherently better than poetry. All art reflects the economic interests of a class; the categories of the imaginary derive from social organisation. Anticipating a torrent of neo-Stalinist attacks on human awareness, he denies the individual any right to consciousness. To be sure, he gives the mind its validity back as soon as it submits to the Justified Masses, whose rightful voice is the Communist Party; a concession which not all followers of the same path were to tolerate. Your lyric feelings become true so long as you have the government behind you; a kind of majority rule. His proofs are gaudy in their variety; Assyria, Ancient Greece, the West of Ireland, Kazakhstan, Black Australia, etc. It emerges after a while that this is a flashback to the style of Ebenezer Jones: the same figures are present in the same parts of the canvas, but the whole is dressed as a piece of rational prose instead of an opening of the vials and flight through the violet smoke of Apocalypse. It is striking that he quotes no contemporary poetry, no episodes from contemporary Britain, no example of the culture of the masses in Britain; he is only convinced by things he has never experienced, which appear to him as a kind of exotic, veridical dream. He makes much of a Kazakh bard, Djambul, who wrote many panegyrics to Stalin. This 'great poetry' is supposed to be a model for regressive and disobedient English bards; what Thomson does not know is that Lenin, irritated by a Kazakh revolt against Bolshevik brutality, confiscated their flocks as 'state property', depriving them of their food supplies; about a quarter of the Kazakhs died in the subsequent famine, one of Lenin's more notorious acts of genocide. Lenin's career makes Radovan Karadzic look like Mother Teresa. For a Kazakh to praise Bolshevism was a cringing hypocrisy and treachery of no mean order. Thomson knew nothing about the history of the Soviet Union; his invocation of the whole of human culture as pieces of one vast pattern is only made possible by ignorance and fantasy.

மேற்கோள் முடிவு.
சுட்டி இதோ:
http://www.pinko.org/70.html

இன்னொரு சுட்டியையும் படியுங்கள். பிரிட்டிஷ் மார்க்சியத்தின் திருகலான வரலாறு விறுவிறுப்பாகக் கிட்டுகிறது.
http://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives/marxism/2003w09/msg00252.htm

ஸ்டாலினியம் இந்த மாவோயிஸ்டுகளுக்கு மட்டும்தான் உதவுமா? இல்லை. மாவோயிஸ்டுகளுக்கு எதிராகவும் செயல்படுத்தப்படும். இதோ ஸ்டேஸ்மென் 2006 இல் எழுதிய ஒரு தலையங்கம். என்னைப் பொறுத்தவரை எல்லா மார்க்சிஸ்டுகளும் அடிப்படையில் ஸ்டாலினியவாதிகள்தான். இருந்தாலும் வங்க ஸ்டாலினியர்களின் நடத்தையே தனி முறை. ஒரே நேரம் ஜனநாயக அபிமானிகள் போல நடித்துக் கொண்டு இந்தியாவின் ஒரு மாநிலத்தையே தம் குத்தகை நிலமாக மாற்றி வேற்றுக் கருத்துகள் உள்ளே நடமாட விடாமல் பார்த்துக் கொள்வது என்ன சாதாரண செயலா?
சரி படித்துப் பாருங்கள்.
Back to archives for 2006-12-13



Marxist & Maoist

December 10 was observed as Human Rights Day all over the world. In West Bengal the programme was organised by the State Human Rights Commission. In the presence of Shyamal Kumar Sen, the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission, the Chief Minister explained that there is a difference between preserving human rights and hobbling the police. When it is a matter of fighting terrorists, police should not be demoralised by criticisms. Excesses against terrorists should not be viewed as human rights abuse.
Buddhadeb Bhattachar-jee’ speech came just five days after an English daily in an editorial advocated a very hard line against Maoists.

The pattern

There is a pattern in this approach. And that pattern is called drive to authoritarianism. It is possible to conduct seemingly democratic elections, when an organised cadre force, backed by the police at need, threatens the whole of rural Bengal, as well as greater parts of cities, before election time. At that stage, a few protests do emerge, and of necessity, some of them become violent. Every violent protest can then be labelled Maoist, or terrorist. If this sounds too outlandish, we should remember some news that an English daily and Ganashakti never published. A few years back, there was a panic (and manic) arrest of people suspected to be Maoists. Now the CPI(Maoist) or its predecessors, the CPI(ML) PW and the MCC, were not banned organisations in West Bengal. But people were picked up on suspicion and tortured and harassed.
One man named Abhijit Sinha was so shattered by his experiences that he committed suicide. An Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights activist was arrested for possessing, among other things, a copy of From Marx to Mao Tse-tung, written by George Thomson. This is a book any political science M.A. student might consult. In May 2002, Sheila Roy and Mamata Ray in North Bengal were suspected of being close to the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation, and were made to stand in the courtyard of their own house and brutally beaten up. Mithu Roy and Shampa were two of the urban women arrested in this phase. Shampa, a first year student of Gurudas College, was arrested for being a member of the Peoples’ War Group.On 16th August 2002, she was presented before the Beharampur Court, and told the judge that for the past four days she had been kept in the police lock- up without any food.
Coming to recent events, like the peasant protest at Singur, we have had a very interesting development. First, a sizeable part of the mass media (not The Statesman and Dainik Statesman) has been supporting the ruling party and the government to such an extent that even honest reporting of news has been given a go by. Just like the CPI-M, these papers went on repeating that only outsiders were fomenting trouble. An English daily even sought to link up every issue in West Bengal with Singur. A train hijack was associated with Singur. And the responsibility for the violence in Singur was laid on the doors of Maoists coming from outside. As a matter of fact, the Chief Minister was even more explicit. According to him, these were Maoists from Jadavpur University. Yet, eyewitness accounts, police arrest lists, all show that in fact, most of the people were locals, and it was a massive police force that committed violence, entering peoples’ houses, often helped by local members or supporters of a particular party, and dragging out and beating up people. One woman, Swapna Banerjee of Nari Nirjatan Pratirodh Mancha, was arrested, and an English daily promptly turned her to be the key Maoist organiser. The police also treated her in the same way. So she was taken to police station, and according to her own testimony, was locked up inside the toilet. Even after the bail petition was granted by Calcutta High Court, it took nearly 48 hours before she was released. In another case, Abhishek Mukherjee, a young man who had suposedly attacked a Tata showroom, was charged with ‘Conspiracy Against the State’.
Just these few cases give an indication of the utter lawlessness of the police in West Bengal. If some minister or CPI-M functionary turns up to say, as they are doing these days, that the police always behaves like this, we need to turn to the Chief Minister’s comments. We do not, at least according to the Constitution, live in a police state. We live in a democratic state, says the Constitution. There is a rule of law, not a rule by the police, says the Constitution. Every person is presumed innocent, till found guilty by a court of law, in a trial where proper procedures are followed and the accused have full rights to defend themselves. The elected government is supposed to represent the people, not rule it like a medieval ruler with his soldiers.
If our “Marxists” wish to show contempt for the Constitution, we should pay heed to the attitude of Marx and Engels. Writing to August Bebel in 1874, Engels commented: a free state is one in which the state is free vis-a-vis its citizens, a state, that is, with a despotic government. So for Marx and Engels, the aim was to maximize democratic popular control over the state. As Marx put it about the same time: Freedom consists in converting the state from an organ superimposed upon society into one completely subordinate to it. And near the end of his life, Engels dotted the ‘i’s and crossed the ‘t’s when he explained that the dictatorship of the proletariat he and Marx had talked about was realised by the Paris Commune.
So what is Mr. Bhattacharjee arguing for? What are certain newspapers urging him to do? We can now put it down in simple terms. Mr Bhattacharjee believes that if he wins elections, this gives him a mandate for riding roughshod over every oppositional viewpoint, emerging from all layers of society. He and his government are willing to allow people the right to protest if police have actually beaten a suspected thief to death. But for any matter relating to government policy, civil society protest will not be tolerated. First, it will be branded anti-development.
Then there will be the charge of being ‘outsiders’. And finally terrorism related accusations would be brought forth. Once that is done, the police would have the right to apply any manner of brutality, without being challenged. For after all, the Chief Minster says criticising them when they are fighting terrorists will break their morale. And then they will shoot people in the back, claiming these were encounter deaths. This was how the Naxalite movement was broken in the early 1970s.

The motivations

We can of course understand the motivations. Hailing from a Stalinist tradition, Mr Bhattacharjee and his party are people who never recognised real right to dissent. They remain one of the few big political parties in the world that even today believes that the genocide (of communists, of peasants not willing to hand over land for collectivisation, of national minorities) carried out by Josef Stalin was really good, and it “built socialism”. So even when they give up socialism and opt for globalised capitalism, they have not changed their methodology.
As for that section of the media yelling for blood, we can understand their motives too. Liberalism comes in two basic forms, within which there has always been a contradiction. Political liberalism stresses civil liberties. Economic liberalism stresses the right of capital above all. If, to uphold that, political rights like civil liberties have to be jettisoned, so be it. Behind the seemingly proper words “counter-violence” lies the reality that the state is being asked to ignore all constitutional guarantees. We have, under the tender ministrations of Mr Bhattacharjee, already slipped a long way down that road. Unless we act at once, the result will be terrible, not just for Maoists, but for all of us who value our democratic rights.
இதற்கு வலை முகவரி:
http://thestatesman.net/page.arcview.php?date=2006-12-13&usrsess=1&clid=3&id=167165

இதை எழுதியது அனானி2


1. November 2007 22:18

Anonym said... November 2007 18:34
நான் இன்னொரு இடத்தில் இந்த ப்ளாகில் விளக்கியபடி, நான் அனானி-2. இங்கு அனானி என்ற சொல்லால் எழுந்த குழப்பத்துக்கு வருந்துகிறேன். நான் தான் ஸ்டாலினின் படுகொலைகள் பற்றிய மாஸ்கோ டைம்ஸின் நேற்றைய செய்தியைப் பதிந்தேன். அதைத் தியாகு மிக வசதியாகப் பார்க்கக் கூட மறுத்தது அவரது மொத்தக் கூட்டத்தின் காமாலைப் பார்வையையும், காரியக் குருட்டுத்தனத்தையும் தெளிவாகக் காட்டுகிறது.
புடின் ஒரு முன்னாள் உயர் நிலை கேஜிபி அதிகாரி. வெகுநாளாக அதில் பணியாற்றியவர். மேலை முதலாளியத்துக்கு ரஷ்யா அடிமையாகக் கூடாது என்ற தேசியக் கண்ணோட்டம் உள்ளவர். இதற்காக மட்டும் நான் அவரைப் பாராட்டவே செய்கிறேன்.
[இங்கு வாதிடும் இதர மாவோயிஸ்டுகளைப் போல சீனாவுக்கும் அரேபிய ஏகாதிபத்தியத்துக்கும் இந்தியாவை அடிமையாக்கத் துடிக்கும் தேசத் துரோகி இல்லை. அது போகட்டும்.]

புடின் தன் நாட்டுத் தலைவர்களைத் தவிர வேறு நாட்டு அரசியல்வாதிகளைத் தலைவராகவும் ஏற்பதில்லை.
தன் நாட்டை உடைக்கவும், அதைக் கீழே சரிக்கவும் அதை ஒழிக்கவும் முயற்சி செய்கிற இன்னொரு நாட்டின் படுகொலை நாயகனைத் தன் கட்சியின் பெயரிலேயே பதாகையாகவும் சூடவில்லை. அந்த அண்டை நாட்டு ஏகாதிபத்திய முயற்சியைத் தன் நாட்டின் குற்றமாகப் பொது அரங்கில் வாதிடவும் இல்லை.
பெருந்திரளான மக்களைக் கொலை செய்த இரண்டு பெரும் மாபாதகர்களைத் தம் தலைவராகக் கொண்ட இழிசெயலைச் செய்வது மட்டுமல்லாமல் அந்த மாபாதகர்களை விமர்சித்து எழுதப்பட்ட அனைத்து புத்தகங்களும் ஜோடனை என்று கதை விடும் மட்டித் தனத்தையும் புடின் செய்யவில்லை. மாறாக எத்தனை கசப்பாக இருந்தாலும் வேறு வழியில்லை என்ற நிலையில் இருந்து செய்தாலும், கடைசியில் ஸ்டாலினிய ஆட்சி ரஷ்ய மக்களில் ஏராளமான நபர்களை ஒரு காரணமும் இன்றிப் படுகொலை செய்தது என்ற மறுக்க முடியாத உணமையை அந்தப் படுகொலைக்கு ஆளான குடும்பங்களின் வாரிசுகளான ரஷ்யர்களே முன்னின்று நடத்தும் பொது ஜன இயக்கங்களை உதாசீனம் செய்ய முடியாது, கம்யூனிஸ்டு அரசாங்கத்தின் கயமையை ஒப்புக் கொண்டு அதற்கு வருத்தம் தெரிவிக்க முன் வந்திருக்கிறார்.
ஒரு மாநிலத்தின் முதல் மந்திரியான மிகச்சாதாரண நரேந்திர மோடியை பெரும் கொலைபாதகன் என்று வருணித்துக் கவிதை எழுதி ஏதோ சில நூறு மக்களின் சாவு தம்மை உருக்குவது போலப் பகல் வேடம் போடும் இந்தத் தியாகு, அவரது கட்சியின் மையக் கொள்கையே பல மிலியன் மக்களைப் பலி போடும் அரக்கத் திட்டம்தான் என்பதை எவ்வளவு வசதியாக மறைக்கிறார் என்று பாருங்கள்! நாமெல்லாம் மடையர்கள், இவருடைய கோமாளித்தனமான உருக்க நாடகத்தை நம்பி விடுவோமாம்.

பல மிலியன் மக்களை ஈ, எறும்பு போலப் பாவித்துத் தன் பூட்சின் கீழ் போட்டுத் தேய்த்த இரண்டு பெருந்திரள் கொலை வெறியர்களைப் பற்றி ஒரு வரி கூட வருத்தம் தெரிவித்து எழுத வக்கில்லாத கெடுமதிக் கூட்டம் இது. அதை விடக் கேவலம் அந்த இருவரின் கொலை வெறி அரசியல் கொள்கைகளையே தன் முக்கியக் கொள்கையாகவும் வைத்திருக்கிறது.
இந்த அளவு கேவலமான போலித்தனம் இனவெறி அரசியல் இயக்கமான திராவிட இயக்கத்தால்தான் சாத்தியம். ஆனல் தியாகுவின் கூட்டம் அந்த அரசியலிலும் ஊறித்தானிருக்கிறது. அதனால் நான் மேலே சொல்லும் எதுவும் இந்தக் கூட்டத்தின் அமானுஷ்ய மனதை, காலனியாதிக்கத்துக்கு கிருத்தவ ஏகாதிபத்தியத்துக்கு உட்பட்ட சிந்தனையைத் தொடாது என்று எனக்குத் தெரியும்.
ஆனால் கேள்வி கேட்க யாருமில்லை என்று நினைத்து மேலும் மேலும் எகிறிக் குதித்து தாம் ஏதோ பெரு நாயகர்கள் என்றும் உலக மகா அறிவு ஜீவிகள் என்றும் காருண்யத்தின் திரூ உருக்கள் என்றும் பாசாங்கு செய்வதை அவ்வளவு எளிதாகத் தொடர்ந்து செய்தால் வலையுலக வாசகர்களுக்கு மாற்றுக் கருத்துகள் கிட்டட்டும் என்று கருதியே இதையெல்லாம் எழுதுகிறேன்.
அல்லது இத்தனை நாள் நன்மை அறியாத மூடர்கள் என்று விட்டு விட்டுப் போன மாதிரியே இப்போதும் போயிருப்பேன்.
யாரும் தவறாகக் கருத வேண்டாம். புடினை நான் ஆமோதிப்பதில்லை. ஏனெனில் அவர் ரஷ்ய மக்களைக் கொடுமைப் படுத்த ஸ்டாலினிய வாதிகள் பயன்படுத்திய ஒரு மோசமான அரசுக் கருவியான கேஜிபியின் உயரதிகாரி. ஆனால் 60 வயதுக்குக் கீழே உள்ள புடின் ஸ்டாலினியம் ஆண்ட காலங்களில் சிறுவராகத்தான் இருந்தார் என்பதால் ஸ்டாலினைப் போன்ற கயவர்களின் ரத்தக் கறை இவர் மேல் பூசப் படவில்லை என்பதை நாம் நினைவு கொள்ள வேண்டும். ஆனால் லெனின், ஸ்டாலின் ஆகியோரின் பிரத்தியேகச் சமையற்காரராக புடினுடைய பாட்டனார் பணியாற்றியிருக்கிறார் என்பதால் புடினின் மீது நாம் களங்கம் சுமத்த முடியாது. அந்த வகைச் சிந்தனை மாவோயிசக் கொலைகாரர்களுக்கும், ஸ்டாலினியப் பாதகர்களுக்கும், அருகே தமிழகத்தில் இனவெறித் திராவிட அரசியல்வாதிகளுக்கும்தான் உரித்தானது. நவீன ஜனநாயக வாதிகளுக்கு இந்த வகைச் சிந்தனை வெறுப்பூட்டுவது.
ஏற்கனவே பெருங்கொலைகாரகளான லெனின், ஸ்டாலின், ட்ராட்ஸ்கி, பெரியா, மேலும் பெரும் ஊழல் பெருச்சாளிகளான ப்ரெஷ்னெவ் போன்ற அ-மனிதரைத் தலைவர்களாகச் சுமந்த பெரும் துரதிருஷ்டம் ரஷ்ய மக்களை ஒரு நூறாண்டு காலம் வாட்டி இருக்கிறது. அதற்கு முன்னால் பல நூறாண்டுகள் உலகக் கொடுங்கோலர்களில் முக்கியமான பல கொடுங்கோலர்களையும் அரசர்களாக (ஜார்) அது பாரமாகச் சுமந்திருக்கிறது.
அந்த மக்களின் வாழ்வில் மேலும் கொடுமைகளைச் சுமத்த முன்னாள் கேஜிபியின் குற்றவாளிக் கூட்டமான அதிகாரிகளாலான ஒரு பெருந்திருடர் கூட்டம் இன்று புடினின் தலைமையில் கீழ் ரஷ்ய மக்களைச் சுரண்டிக் கொண்டு இருக்கிறது.
புடின் மீதே ரஷ்யப் பணக்காரத்திருடர்களோடு கூட்டாளி என்ற குற்றச்சாட்டு பலமுறை சுமத்தப் பட்டிருக்கிறது. ஸ்டாலினிய ரகசிய அரசமைப்பு 50 ஆண்டு ஆண்ட ஒரு நாட்டில் குற்றவாளிகளின் கூட்டம் அதிகாரி வர்க்கமாகத்தான் இருக்கும். என்னதான் சோவியத் அரசு வீழ்ந்து போனாலும் இந்தத் திருட்டு அதிகாரிகள் கூட்டம் அழியாது. அதில் ஒருவரான புடினுக்கு புதிதாய் ரஷ்ய மக்களைச் சுரண்ட எழுந்த கூட்டத்தோடு தொடர்பு இல்லாமல் இருந்தால்தான் ஆச்சரியம். ஆனால் நமக்கு உண்மைகள் தெரியப் பலகாலம் ஆகும்.
ஆனாலும் புடின் இத்தனை குற்றச் சாட்டுகளுக்கும் மேலே ரஷ்ய நாட்டின் மீதும் அதன் மக்களின் மீதும் பற்றுள்ளவர் என்பதில் எனக்கு ஐயம் இல்லை.
இந்தியக் கம்யூனிஸ்டுகளைப் போலப் பிற நாட்டுக்கு அடிமை வேலை செய்யவும், தம் மக்களைக் காட்டிக் கொடுக்கவும் தயாரான கோழையோ, அல்லது கருங்காலியோ இல்லை அவர்.
அந்த ரஷ்ய அதிபரே, புஷ், ப்ளேர், மேலும் இதர ஐரோப்பிய நாட்டுத் தலைவர்களுக்குச் சிறிதும் தலை வணங்காத முடி, தம் நாட்டு வரலாற்றின் காரிருள் பக்கத்தை ஒப்புக் கொண்டு மன்னிப்புக் கோருகிறார்.
அவர் சொல்வது உண்மை இல்லையாம், அவருக்கு உண்மை தெரியாதாம் ரஷ்ய இருட்டு வருடங்கள் பற்றி. நேற்று மழையில் முளைத்த காளான்களான இந்த மாவொயிஸ்டுகளுக்குத்தான் ரஷ்யா பற்றிய உண்மை எல்லாம் தெரியுமாம்.

இங்கு தம் பங்குக்கு உள் நாட்டுப் போரைக் கொண்டு வந்து, அதில் பல மிலியன் மக்களைக் கொல்லவும், அதன் மூலம் இந்தியாவைத் துண்டாடவும், பெரும் அதிகாரத்தைக் கைப்பற்றிப் பெரும் மக்கள் திரளை நசுக்கி ஆளவும் கனவு கண்டபடி உட்கார்ந்திருக்கும் இந்த ஏட்டுச் சுரைக்காய், மண்ணாந்தைகள் (புடின்) யாரைக் குற்றவாளி என்று ஒத்துக் கொள்கிறாரோ அதே அற்பரைத் தம் கதாநாயகனாகப் பாவித்துக் கொண்டாடுகிறார்கள்.
ஏனெனில் இவர்களுக்கு மட்டும்தான் உண்மை தெரியுமாம்.
ரஷ்ய மொழி தெரியுமா என்று கேட்டால் பதில் இல்லை. தெரியாது என்று உண்மையை ஒப்ப வேண்டியது தானே? எந்த ரஷ்யப் புத்தகங்களை, வரலாற்று ஆவணங்களை, அல்லது ரஷ்ய வரலாற்று ஆசிரியர்களை நீங்கள் படித்தீர்கள்? நீங்கள் உண்மை என்று கருதுவது சரியா என்று எப்படி ஐயா சந்தேகமின்றி இருக்கிறீர்கள் என்று கேட்டால், உடனே நாடகமாடத் தொடங்குகிறார்கள்.
ஆமாம், நாங்கள் உங்களைப் போல படிப்பாளி இல்லை, சாமானியர்தான், ஆனால் எங்களுக்கு யார் ஓநாய், யார் ஆடு என்று தெரியும் என்று சாமியாடுகிறார்கள்.
எதுவும் தெரியாது, எங்கள் கட்சியின் துண்டுப் பிரசுரம்தான் படித்தோம், அதை நாங்கள் நம்புகிறோம் என்று உண்மையை ஒப்புக் கொண்டால் தொலைகிறது இன்னொரு மதவெறிக் கூட்டம், religious fundamentalist, அறிவுக்கும், ஆய்வுக்கும் தொடர்பற்ற வெறியர் கூட்டம் என்று என் வழியில் போயிருப்பேன்.
இல்லையாம். நான் ஒரு முதலாளியச் சிந்தனைக்காரனாம். ஏன், என்ன ஆதாரத்தோடு இதையெல்லாம் உளறுகிறீர்கள் என்று கேட்பதனாலா? ரஷ்ய மொழியும் தெரியாது, ரஷ்யாவுக்குப் போனதில்லை, உலகப் புத்தகங்கள் அனைத்தும் முதலாளியச் சதி என்று சொன்னவர் ஏதோ அசாதாரணமாகக் கட்டுரைகள் வரைந்து தள்ளி இருக்கிறாரம், அவருடைய வலைப் பக்கத்தில் நான் அங்கு போய்ப் படித்துப் புண்ணியனாக வேண்டுமாம். இதற்கு ஒரு ஜாலரா ஏய் உங்கள் முகரையைப் பேர்த்து விடுவேன் என்று மிரட்டல் வேறு போடுகிறது.
வெறும் தற்குறித்தனமான அரசியல் ஞானத்தை வைத்துக் கொண்டா இந்த ஆட்டம் போடுகிறீர்கள்? எதற்கு? அதற்குத்தான் திராவிட இயக்கம் என்ற ஒரு நாணமற்ற கூட்டம் இருக்கிறதே. நீங்கள் எதற்குத் தனி இயக்கம் நடத்த வேண்டும். அவர்களோடு சேர்ந்து கொண்டு தமிழக மக்களைச் சுரண்ட வேண்டியதுதானே? ஏற்கனவே அவர்களுடைய இனவெறி கோஷங்களை எல்லாம்தான் கைவசம் வைத்திருக்கிறீர்களே? கூட்டத்தோடு கோவிந்தா போடலாமே?

ரஷ்யாவில் அசாதாரணமான துக்கங்களுக்குப் பலியான ரஷ்ய மக்களுக்கு தம் நாட்டின் வரலாறும் சோகமும், கொடுமைகளும் தெரியாதாம். கும்மிடிப் பூண்டியிலும், வறட்டுக்காற்று மங்கலத்திலும் வாழும் இவர்களுக்குத்தான் சைபீரிய ரஷ்யா பற்றி அனைத்தும் தெரியுமாம்.

என்ன ஒரு மதர்ப்பு, என்ன ஒரு மெத்தனம், என்ன ஒரு அரக்க ம்னப் பான்மை.
மேலும், such an amazing, bottomless stupidity!

What a fall for India, after getting rid of 1000 years of colonialism that its youth are again a prey to stupid colonialand racist ideologies of the west and east!
இந்தியாதான் எவ்வளவு துர்பாக்கியம் உள்ள நாடாகப் போயிற்று! இந்த மண்ணின் மக்கள் வாழ்வில் இவ்வளவு கருமேகங்கள் ஏன் சூழ்கின்றன? விடிவுதான் என்று வரும் இந்த ஒரு பிலியன் மக்களுக்கு? இந்தத் துரோகிக் கூட்டங்கள் என்று திருந்துவர்?
அனானி-2


1. November 2007 18:34

13 Comments:

Anonym said...

anony-2 posting:

This is a debate from the venerable Monthly review magazine, which of course is the staple diet for many of the 'learned marxists' in Tamil Nadu for the past 30 years at least. You will find the dust laden volumes in their personal collections if you happen to visit them in their residences.
Read on. It is funny, sad and at times gut wrenching to see these british marxists try all kinds of somersaults to justify the stalinist violence and mass murders. The same old logic of Hobbes- ends justify means. So what is sad about it? In the end the end achieved is the same old same old oppression of the workers and the peasants in the name of some empty slogan of an ideal. That is another massive fraud perpetrated on the poor of the world by slick middle class intellectuals hungry for power and control. All unfiltered evil minds masquerading as the friends of the poor, calculating all the time who is more submissive, and who is not to make sure to kill the rebellious.
http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/lin291007p.html

On the Ninetieth Anniversary of the Russian Revolution: Why Socialism Did Not Fail
by Sharat G. Lin
When the Russian Revolution of October 1917 took place, it raised the hopes of the working class worldwide that a socialist state was possible. The civil war that followed plus the intervention of foreign powers devastated the economy, necessitating a postponement in the transition to socialist relations of production. The New Economic Policy was a stop-gap measure to sustain agricultural and industrial production in the face of war and potential famine. It was not until the 1930s that collectivization of farms and factories, and state ownership of the means of production, could be completed. The violence before and after October 1917 was taken as an indication that a peaceful transition to socialism was not possible because the propertied classes would not willingly give up their privileges.
On the contrary, when Boris Yeltsin effectively dissolved the Soviet Union in December 1991, allowing the republics to go their own ways, and vowed to transform Russia into a capitalist market economy, it surprised many that the counter-revolution could have happened with so little effort and largely without violent upheaval. Many on the left lamented the apparent collapse of socialism in Russia and withering away of socialist relations of production in the republics.
The 1917 capture of state power by the Bolsheviks was accompanied by workers winning control of factories and establishing workers' soviets. However, a careful examination of Soviet history suggests that the period from the end of the New Economic Policy (1929) to the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (1941) witnessed two seemingly contradictory trends. First, the consolidation of collective and state ownership of the means of production throughout the economy prompted Joseph Stalin to declare that socialism had been achieved and that classes had been abolished. Second, Stalin's purges of the Bolshevik Party and dismantling of the soviets effectively overthrew workers' power and established the rule of the bureaucracy.
The bureaucracy's continued ideological adherence to the state playing a central role in the egalitarian redistribution of wealth provided a veil of "socialism" that led many on the left to consider the Soviet Union to be some sort of "socialist," "revisionist," or "deformed workers' state." The prevalent failure to recognize the bureaucracy as a ruling class derives, in part, from the bureaucracy being divorced from a polar position in the relations of production, e.g., it neither owns capital per se nor necessarily appropriates surplus for its own benefit. Nevertheless, state enterprises are under the direct control of managerial elites who appropriate surplus for reinvestment or for the state. They are the apex class in a "decapitated" relation of production that excludes an owner class, but includes a class ladder of managers, intellectuals (sellers of knowledge power), and workers (sellers of labor power). If enterprise bureaucrats clearly represent a class because of their position in a relation of production, so are state bureaucrats, by extension, members of that bureaucratic class owing to their authority over enterprise bureaucrats and power to appropriate enterprise surpluses to operate the state apparatus.

Thus, workers and intellectuals alike were alienated from state capital and its appropriation. By the 1960s, this was clearly evidenced by widespread attempts to circumvent the system, including the black market and the underground economy. Without specifying which class truly held state power, the national slogan of the day was "Служите государство!" ("Serve the State!") It certainly was not of the working class.
As the first president of post-Soviet Russia, Boris Yeltsin unleashed a wave of privatizations that sold gigantic state enterprises for a song, catapulting a handful of well-connected buyers into becoming the new capitalist oligarchs. Though once a top CPSU leader, Yeltsin, the bureaucrat, had no inherent class interest in capitalist versus state capitalist versus statist versus socialist relations of production. For Yeltsin, selling off state enterprises was a means of dissolving the power base of his opponents in the bureaucracy and consolidating his own power within that bureaucracy.
By the same token, Vladimir Putin has no inherent class interest in preserving private enterprises. His efforts in recent years to re-establish state control over key sectors of the economy -- oil (Rosneft), natural gas (Gazprom), oil and petrochemical transport (Transneft and Transnefteprodukt), automobiles (Autovaz), metals (VSMPO-Avisma), aviation (United Aircraft Corporation), and shipbuilding -- served to dissolve the power base of free-market oligarchs who were challenging the power of the bureaucracy.
The zig-zags between market capitalism, state capitalism, and statism are not a consequence of one class overthrowing another each time, but rather of the bureaucracy itself vacillating on the relations of production. Yeltsin's privatizations and Putin's reassertion of state ownership of key means of production are neither counter-revolution nor revolution, but manifestations of the bureaucracy vacillating in its game of consolidating political power and neutralizing opposition.
Despite its defects and contradictions, the Soviet state for 45 years provided an effective counterbalance to global imperialist hegemony, preventing the outbreak of major wars of unprovoked aggression by the U.S. government. But with the Soviet Union already weary of the war in Afghanistan and facing political turmoil at home, it was in no position to deter the first U.S. invasion of Iraq in January 1991. Since then, Russia has acceded to U.S. superpower hegemony, yet has continued to oppose U.S. aggression, extraterritoriality, exceptionalism, and blatant violations of international law. As a bureaucratic state (as opposed to the U.S. capitalist state), Russia's worldview will continue to differ from that of the U.S. and the European Union in seeking accommodation rather than confrontation with developing countries and anti-imperialist movements.
For the left, the problem is not one of a "failure of socialism," but rather of a failure in the first place to continue the revolution to consolidate the socialist state and socialist democracy in the former Soviet Union. One lesson of the Russian Revolution for the project for twenty-first century socialism is that both state power and the relations of production must come fully under workers' democratic control. While the Russian experiment in socialism may have floundered in the twentieth century, socialism itself did not fail. The movement for twenty-first century socialism has an historic opportunity and mandate to correct these mistakes and make true socialism possible.
________________________________________
Sharat G. Lin writes on global political economy, the Middle East, India, labor migration, public health, and the environment. This essay is a summary of a talk presented at a public forum marking the 90th anniversary of the Russian Revolution held in the Humanist Hall, Oakland, California on October 13, 2007. The date generally accepted as marking the Bolshevik Revolution is November 7, 1917 (Gregorian calendar), even though it is frequently referred to as the "October Revolution" of October 25, 1917 (Julian calendar).
________________________________________
URL: mrzine.monthlyreview.org/lin291007.html
________________________________________


MR
This is a very interesting take on the collapse of the Soviet Union. According to Lin, not much has changed in Russia between Gorbochev and Putin. Same bureaucratic, not capitalist, state. Most interesting.

Lin's suggestion of Workers' democratic control is often repeated elsewhere. What changes in Soviet history would be necessary to make this a reality?

I'm reminded of a book called "Is the Red Flag Flying?", by the late Al Zymansky. I disagreed with almost evrything Zymansky wrote in "Red Flag", but I'd like to recall one passage that is apropo here. His arguments in favor of calling the Soviet Union "democratic" included a reference to the common practice of publishing letters to the editor in the Soviet press that were criical of the party and the government.

For Zymansky, allowing lonely and isolated individuals to speak in the press proved there was free speech in the Soviet Union. Ofcourse, if you dared contact any of your fellow letter writers, so you could speak in a united voice, you risked arrest, or worse.

My point here is that for "workers democratic control" to be real, the workers must be able join with like minded people and speak together, or there is no free speech.

After the establisment of socialism workers must remain free to organize parties when they want to. Any good socialist party would never outlaw factions.

Brian King
Seattle
Brian King | 10.29.07 - 10:12 am | #
________________________________________
Lin's article is a retread of "state capitalist" dogma that can be found in the late Tony Cliff's movement. It fails to engage with the question of surplus value production in the USSR, where profit never entered the picture. Marx's analysis of capitalism revolved around m-c-m`. Unfortunately, state capitalists would prefer to sweep this under the rug. A bureaucracy enjoys privileges, but it is not a class. Furthermore, the USSR was a powerful source of support for national liberation movements, even when the bureaucracy did everything in its power to cut deals with imperialism. If the USSR was "capitalist", then why was it so indifferent to developing an empire? I am afraid that calling this social layer "capitalist" serves more as an epithet than as a precise social category.
Louis Proyect | Homepage | 10.29.07 - 1:47 pm | #
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Now this is funny: If the USSR was "capitalist", then why was it so indifferent to developing an empire?

The USSR wasn't an empire? It didn't forcibly incorporate any countries into its sphere of influence? Ever hear of post-WWII Eastern Europe, Poland, or Afghanistan?

And by the way, Tony Cliff did address the M-C-M of state capitalism in his book, State Capitalism in Russia. If you had ever bothered to read it, you would know that and not say that he tried to "sweep it under the rug."

This is a good piece, but everyone knows the USSR was a class society (except those who are still in denial). The question is: what was the nature of that class society? Was it a capitalist, a socialist, a feudal one? Or none of the above? Obviously, I think it was state-cap.
Binh | Homepage | 10.29.07 - 4:13 pm | #
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Binh, Soviet "imperialism" defied any Marxist analysis based on V.1 of Capital. The USSR was effectively subsidizing its "colonies". It bought Cuban sugar at prices above the market level and sold oil beneath market levels. One of the driving forces behind "perestroika" was to dump these obligations and move toward trade based on the profit motive--like the USA and Great Britain, et al.
Louis Proyect | Homepage | 10.29.07 - 8:12 pm | #
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Soviet bureaucrats did use military force to keep other countries in their sphere of influence (for example Hungary in 1956), which surely wasn't a sign of peace and friendship, unlike subsidies to less developed countries. And they didn't do that because ordinary people in the USSR clamored for it, did they? If Marxists couldn't find a concept to fit this phenomenon within Marx's oeuvre (he probably couldn't foresee such a shocking event as Soviet tanks rolling through Budapest to suppress a massive demonstration), they should have invented one.
Phil | 10.29.07 - 11:45 pm | #
________________________________________
Louis Proyect is mostly correct here, but I'll be a lot more direct than he is: this anticommunist horseshit is simply unworthy of MR. Couldn't you find room to publish a better retrospective on 90 years of struggle? I guess not, because the flaky "editor" of MR's embarrassing webzine is spending too much time translating the official communiques of the Iranian government.
Felix Dzerzhinsky | 10.30.07 - 2:24 am | #
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Phil: "Soviet bureaucrats did use military force to keep other countries in their sphere of influence (for example Hungary in 1956), which surely wasn't a sign of peace and friendship, unlike subsidies to less developed countries. And they didn't do that because ordinary people in the USSR clamored for it, did they?"

The USSR had two goals in sending in the tanks to places like Hungary and Czechoslovakia. First, it feared that these "buffer states" might be turned into beachheads for new aggression from the West. While it had legitimate security concerns, the best defense would have been extension of the revolution. When the tanks were sent in, public opinion in the West hardened against the Kremlin--thus undermining the security of the USSR. The other reason tanks were sent in was what Chomsky called "fear of a good example", similar to Reagan's interventions in Central America, etc. However, the defense of privilege in the USSR and its satellite states is not the same thing as capitalism. Capitalism is an expansionist system, as the spectacles of two horrific world wars would indicate. The Soviet system had no expansionist logic. It was based on a system of privilege, but the inner economic laws were different from the capitalist system. Hence, the savage effects of Yeltsin's counter-revolution.
Louis Proyect | Homepage | 10.30.07 - 10:47 am | #
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Is "privilege" a Marxist concept? "Privilege" sounds like a concept from a theory of social stratification. Is it that the USSR's internal dynamics could be best explained by Weberian sociology and its external behavior by realism in international relations?
Phil | 10.30.07 - 5:43 pm | #
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Actually, Lenin wrote about privileges in the working class. The British and American workers enjoyed privileges at the expense of the colonies, etc. If you see the Soviet bureaucracy as a middle layer, privilege makes perfect sense--like a trade union bureaucrat's membership in a country club.
Louis Proyect | Homepage | 10.30.07 - 6:20 pm | #
________________________________________
I would like to get back to Lin's point: "The prevalent failure to recognize the bureaucracy as a ruling class derives, in part, from the bureaucracy being divorced from a polar position in the relations of production, e.g., it neither owns capital per se nor necessarily appropriates surplus for its own benefit. Nevertheless, state enterprises are under the direct control of managerial elites who appropriate surplus for reinvestment or for the state."

The point is not that the USSR was a capitalist society or that Soviet bureaucrats were a capitalist class from the beginning. It was a society presided over by bureaucrats, who had their own interests - owning to their privilege if you will though privilege is a little too static a concept for analysis of change - which eventually came into contradiction with those of alienated workers and intellectuals below them.

It reminds me of another article that I read in MR a while ago: Yiching Wu's "Rethinking ‘Capitalist Restoration’ in China."
Phil | 10.30.07 - 6:49 pm | #
________________________________________
Some additional thoughts:

In fact, the socialists in the East sought to run their economy differently from capitalism in the West, and did run it differently; at this the official parties are said to have failed. Not true. This system, too, was “possible” and “efficient” in its own way — at any rate far too much so for its enemies in the West. They didn’t wait for an inevitable failure but waged a Cold War against it and tried to drive it to its death with a historically unique arms race. In the end, so-called Real Socialism did not “fall in the face of reality,” but was discarded by its rulers, the communist parties of the East Bloc; and not because their citizens would have rebelled against a scarcity economy, but because the national leadership had compared their means of power and resources with those of their enemy in the West, and had resolved to copy the capitalist system that simply extracts more wealth for the state out of its people. The decisive thing that didn’t “function” well enough in the planned economy of the East was the exploitation of the people to the state’s benefit. Their exit casts a revealing light on the purposes these socialists expressly and energetically realized — after all, that’s why they paid themselves the unspeakable compliment of being not only theoretical but real socialists. With all seriousness, they wanted to set up a superior alternative to capitalism that in every performance measure of capitalist nations would come out ahead of the original. They made their revolution with the purpose of putting an end to the unjust treatment of the workers by factory lords, and of establishing a workers’ state that would clear away the “inefficiency” of capitalism, abolish its crises, and spare national growth the useless burden of luxury consumption on the part of the rich as well as the interruptions of the working process due to class struggle. The activists of this “real socialist” state sought to catch up with and overtake capitalism in output, rate of growth, and labor productivity. And when they had finally persuaded themselves that they’d never achieve this in their way, they lost interest in their socialist alternative. Whatever their system had spared the workers in terms of competition and struggle for existence was no longer interesting for them except in one respect: this was precisely what had been hindering the “efficiency” they were after. Under the motto of “overcoming the phase of stagnation,” they didn’t improve their system then but instead abolished everything that deviated from the formerly criticized capitalism — and from all that, the advocates of “free enterprise” draw only one “conclusion,” enthusiastically invoking the fatal self-criticism of the state socialists who stepped down: how wrong it had been to deviate from the capitalist model in the first place.
Reinhard | 10.31.07 - 8:47 am | #
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I have a question for all. How can Putin preside over the selfsame bureaucracy as Gorbachev if such drastic changes to the social basis of his regime have taken place?

Gorbachev and Yeltsin combined to dismantle a centrally planned economy, relinquish a state monopoly on foreign trade, sell off state-owned industry, etc. So then on what social basis does their successor, the Putin-led bureaucracy, rest?

My sense is that power plays like the Yukos scandal, for one, have more to do with state capitalism in the orthodox sense -- that is, state protection of the national bourgeoisie -- than actual expropriation or even curtailing of private ownership. Thoughts?
Putin the Red? | 10.31.07 - 12:01 pm | #
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Proyect writes: Capitalism is an expansionist system, as the spectacles of two horrific world wars would indicate. The Soviet system had no expansionist logic.

So the USSR didn't expand its empire? Again, that would be news to everyone who lived in Eastern Europe and Afghanstan who witnessed that expansion first-hand during and after WWII.

He also writes: Binh, Soviet "imperialism" defied any Marxist analysis based on V.1 of Capital.

Capitalism did not stop evolving after Marx finished Vol. 1 of capital. Even reformists like Hilferding, who wrote Finance Capital, recognized that.
Binh | Homepage | 11.01.07 - 11:34 am | #
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We do need boilerplate from other nations such as Iran. Let's not nibble our way into self-censorship. Open to all news and documents our mainstream press won't give us seems to be MRZine's policy and I'm glad of it.
Martin Murie | 11.01.07 - 7:19 pm | #
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Bihn asks, "So the USSR didn't expand its empire?"

It is worth noting that the USSR under Stalin showed scant interest in anything outside its borders until 1940. If Stalin's Russia was "imperialist", why did it take over two decades for it to manifest itself? The answer is simple. After losing tens of millions of its citizens in a horrible war with the Nazis, it sought to create a buffer between itself and the anti-Communist West. As I have tried to point out, it would have been better for the USSR if it had extended the revolution. For example, a Communist victory in Greece would have put the (real) imperialists on the defensive but Stalin sold out the Greek communist resistance. If Stalin was so bent on expanding his "empire", he seemed awfully lackadaisical when it came to jewels like Greece, France, Indochina and other countries that were ripe for socialist transformation--even it is was from above. Binh should try to find the time to read Gabriel Kolko's "The Roots of American Foreign Policy". It reveals how deferential Stalin was to imperialist interests everywhere in the world outside Eastern Europe, which he intended to turn into a kind of Maginot Line. As a political/military strategist, Stalin was a true ninkumpoop.
Louis Proyect | Homepage | 11.01.07 - 9:10 pm | #
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Imperialism is older than capitalism, e.g., Athens and Sparta were both imperialist, though neither was capitalist. The USSR wasn't capitalist-imperialist, but it was imperialist in the sense that most people, certainly those in the countries it wanted as "a buffer between itself and the anti-Communist West," recognized. Denying this won't make socialism popular.
Mike | 11.01.07 - 9:41 pm | #
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If you want to call the USSR a non-capitalist imperialist power, you still have to explain why it was so indifferent to "conquest". Let me repeat myself. Until 1945, the USSR was an economic autarky that showed not the least interest in expansion. After losing 50 percent of its industrial base and about 24 million of its citizens in WWII, it made the decision to create a buffer between it and the West. If WWII had not happened, Eastern Europe would have remained capitalist. This being the case, it seems totally wrong to describe Stalin's Russia as a kind of latter-day Rome. Rome was expansionist at its outset.
Louis Proyect | Homepage | 11.02.07 - 9:51 am | #

MR
This is a very interesting take on the collapse of the Soviet Union. According to Lin, not much has changed in Russia between Gorbochev and Putin. Same bureaucratic, not capitalist, state. Most interesting.

Lin's suggestion of Workers' democratic control is often repeated elsewhere. What changes in Soviet history would be necessary to make this a reality?

I'm reminded of a book called "Is the Red Flag Flying?", by the late Al Zymansky. I disagreed with almost evrything Zymansky wrote in "Red Flag", but I'd like to recall one passage that is apropo here. His arguments in favor of calling the Soviet Union "democratic" included a reference to the common practice of publishing letters to the editor in the Soviet press that were criical of the party and the government.

For Zymansky, allowing lonely and isolated individuals to speak in the press proved there was free speech in the Soviet Union. Ofcourse, if you dared contact any of your fellow letter writers, so you could speak in a united voice, you risked arrest, or worse.

My point here is that for "workers democratic control" to be real, the workers must be able join with like minded people and speak together, or there is no free speech.

After the establisment of socialism workers must remain free to organize parties when they want to. Any good socialist party would never outlaw factions.

Brian King
Seattle
Brian King | 10.29.07 - 10:12 am | #
________________________________________
Lin's article is a retread of "state capitalist" dogma that can be found in the late Tony Cliff's movement. It fails to engage with the question of surplus value production in the USSR, where profit never entered the picture. Marx's analysis of capitalism revolved around m-c-m`. Unfortunately, state capitalists would prefer to sweep this under the rug. A bureaucracy enjoys privileges, but it is not a class. Furthermore, the USSR was a powerful source of support for national liberation movements, even when the bureaucracy did everything in its power to cut deals with imperialism. If the USSR was "capitalist", then why was it so indifferent to developing an empire? I am afraid that calling this social layer "capitalist" serves more as an epithet than as a precise social category.
Louis Proyect | Homepage | 10.29.07 - 1:47 pm | #
________________________________________
Now this is funny: If the USSR was "capitalist", then why was it so indifferent to developing an empire?

The USSR wasn't an empire? It didn't forcibly incorporate any countries into its sphere of influence? Ever hear of post-WWII Eastern Europe, Poland, or Afghanistan?

And by the way, Tony Cliff did address the M-C-M of state capitalism in his book, State Capitalism in Russia. If you had ever bothered to read it, you would know that and not say that he tried to "sweep it under the rug."

This is a good piece, but everyone knows the USSR was a class society (except those who are still in denial). The question is: what was the nature of that class society? Was it a capitalist, a socialist, a feudal one? Or none of the above? Obviously, I think it was state-cap.
Binh | Homepage | 10.29.07 - 4:13 pm | #
________________________________________
Binh, Soviet "imperialism" defied any Marxist analysis based on V.1 of Capital. The USSR was effectively subsidizing its "colonies". It bought Cuban sugar at prices above the market level and sold oil beneath market levels. One of the driving forces behind "perestroika" was to dump these obligations and move toward trade based on the profit motive--like the USA and Great Britain, et al.
Louis Proyect | Homepage | 10.29.07 - 8:12 pm | #
________________________________________
Soviet bureaucrats did use military force to keep other countries in their sphere of influence (for example Hungary in 1956), which surely wasn't a sign of peace and friendship, unlike subsidies to less developed countries. And they didn't do that because ordinary people in the USSR clamored for it, did they? If Marxists couldn't find a concept to fit this phenomenon within Marx's oeuvre (he probably couldn't foresee such a shocking event as Soviet tanks rolling through Budapest to suppress a massive demonstration), they should have invented one.
Phil | 10.29.07 - 11:45 pm | #
________________________________________
Louis Proyect is mostly correct here, but I'll be a lot more direct than he is: this anticommunist horseshit is simply unworthy of MR. Couldn't you find room to publish a better retrospective on 90 years of struggle? I guess not, because the flaky "editor" of MR's embarrassing webzine is spending too much time translating the official communiques of the Iranian government.
Felix Dzerzhinsky | 10.30.07 - 2:24 am | #
________________________________________
Phil: "Soviet bureaucrats did use military force to keep other countries in their sphere of influence (for example Hungary in 1956), which surely wasn't a sign of peace and friendship, unlike subsidies to less developed countries. And they didn't do that because ordinary people in the USSR clamored for it, did they?"

The USSR had two goals in sending in the tanks to places like Hungary and Czechoslovakia. First, it feared that these "buffer states" might be turned into beachheads for new aggression from the West. While it had legitimate security concerns, the best defense would have been extension of the revolution. When the tanks were sent in, public opinion in the West hardened against the Kremlin--thus undermining the security of the USSR. The other reason tanks were sent in was what Chomsky called "fear of a good example", similar to Reagan's interventions in Central America, etc. However, the defense of privilege in the USSR and its satellite states is not the same thing as capitalism. Capitalism is an expansionist system, as the spectacles of two horrific world wars would indicate. The Soviet system had no expansionist logic. It was based on a system of privilege, but the inner economic laws were different from the capitalist system. Hence, the savage effects of Yeltsin's counter-revolution.
Louis Proyect | Homepage | 10.30.07 - 10:47 am | #
________________________________________
Is "privilege" a Marxist concept? "Privilege" sounds like a concept from a theory of social stratification. Is it that the USSR's internal dynamics could be best explained by Weberian sociology and its external behavior by realism in international relations?
Phil | 10.30.07 - 5:43 pm | #
________________________________________
Actually, Lenin wrote about privileges in the working class. The British and American workers enjoyed privileges at the expense of the colonies, etc. If you see the Soviet bureaucracy as a middle layer, privilege makes perfect sense--like a trade union bureaucrat's membership in a country club.
Louis Proyect | Homepage | 10.30.07 - 6:20 pm | #
________________________________________
I would like to get back to Lin's point: "The prevalent failure to recognize the bureaucracy as a ruling class derives, in part, from the bureaucracy being divorced from a polar position in the relations of production, e.g., it neither owns capital per se nor necessarily appropriates surplus for its own benefit. Nevertheless, state enterprises are under the direct control of managerial elites who appropriate surplus for reinvestment or for the state."

The point is not that the USSR was a capitalist society or that Soviet bureaucrats were a capitalist class from the beginning. It was a society presided over by bureaucrats, who had their own interests - owning to their privilege if you will though privilege is a little too static a concept for analysis of change - which eventually came into contradiction with those of alienated workers and intellectuals below them.

It reminds me of another article that I read in MR a while ago: Yiching Wu's "Rethinking ‘Capitalist Restoration’ in China."
Phil | 10.30.07 - 6:49 pm | #
________________________________________
Some additional thoughts:

In fact, the socialists in the East sought to run their economy differently from capitalism in the West, and did run it differently; at this the official parties are said to have failed. Not true. This system, too, was “possible” and “efficient” in its own way — at any rate far too much so for its enemies in the West. They didn’t wait for an inevitable failure but waged a Cold War against it and tried to drive it to its death with a historically unique arms race. In the end, so-called Real Socialism did not “fall in the face of reality,” but was discarded by its rulers, the communist parties of the East Bloc; and not because their citizens would have rebelled against a scarcity economy, but because the national leadership had compared their means of power and resources with those of their enemy in the West, and had resolved to copy the capitalist system that simply extracts more wealth for the state out of its people. The decisive thing that didn’t “function” well enough in the planned economy of the East was the exploitation of the people to the state’s benefit. Their exit casts a revealing light on the purposes these socialists expressly and energetically realized — after all, that’s why they paid themselves the unspeakable compliment of being not only theoretical but real socialists. With all seriousness, they wanted to set up a superior alternative to capitalism that in every performance measure of capitalist nations would come out ahead of the original. They made their revolution with the purpose of putting an end to the unjust treatment of the workers by factory lords, and of establishing a workers’ state that would clear away the “inefficiency” of capitalism, abolish its crises, and spare national growth the useless burden of luxury consumption on the part of the rich as well as the interruptions of the working process due to class struggle. The activists of this “real socialist” state sought to catch up with and overtake capitalism in output, rate of growth, and labor productivity. And when they had finally persuaded themselves that they’d never achieve this in their way, they lost interest in their socialist alternative. Whatever their system had spared the workers in terms of competition and struggle for existence was no longer interesting for them except in one respect: this was precisely what had been hindering the “efficiency” they were after. Under the motto of “overcoming the phase of stagnation,” they didn’t improve their system then but instead abolished everything that deviated from the formerly criticized capitalism — and from all that, the advocates of “free enterprise” draw only one “conclusion,” enthusiastically invoking the fatal self-criticism of the state socialists who stepped down: how wrong it had been to deviate from the capitalist model in the first place.
Reinhard | 10.31.07 - 8:47 am | #
________________________________________
I have a question for all. How can Putin preside over the selfsame bureaucracy as Gorbachev if such drastic changes to the social basis of his regime have taken place?

Gorbachev and Yeltsin combined to dismantle a centrally planned economy, relinquish a state monopoly on foreign trade, sell off state-owned industry, etc. So then on what social basis does their successor, the Putin-led bureaucracy, rest?

My sense is that power plays like the Yukos scandal, for one, have more to do with state capitalism in the orthodox sense -- that is, state protection of the national bourgeoisie -- than actual expropriation or even curtailing of private ownership. Thoughts?
Putin the Red? | 10.31.07 - 12:01 pm | #
________________________________________
Proyect writes: Capitalism is an expansionist system, as the spectacles of two horrific world wars would indicate. The Soviet system had no expansionist logic.

So the USSR didn't expand its empire? Again, that would be news to everyone who lived in Eastern Europe and Afghanstan who witnessed that expansion first-hand during and after WWII.

He also writes: Binh, Soviet "imperialism" defied any Marxist analysis based on V.1 of Capital.

Capitalism did not stop evolving after Marx finished Vol. 1 of capital. Even reformists like Hilferding, who wrote Finance Capital, recognized that.
Binh | Homepage | 11.01.07 - 11:34 am | #
________________________________________
We do need boilerplate from other nations such as Iran. Let's not nibble our way into self-censorship. Open to all news and documents our mainstream press won't give us seems to be MRZine's policy and I'm glad of it.
Martin Murie | 11.01.07 - 7:19 pm | #
________________________________________
Bihn asks, "So the USSR didn't expand its empire?"

It is worth noting that the USSR under Stalin showed scant interest in anything outside its borders until 1940. If Stalin's Russia was "imperialist", why did it take over two decades for it to manifest itself? The answer is simple. After losing tens of millions of its citizens in a horrible war with the Nazis, it sought to create a buffer between itself and the anti-Communist West. As I have tried to point out, it would have been better for the USSR if it had extended the revolution. For example, a Communist victory in Greece would have put the (real) imperialists on the defensive but Stalin sold out the Greek communist resistance. If Stalin was so bent on expanding his "empire", he seemed awfully lackadaisical when it came to jewels like Greece, France, Indochina and other countries that were ripe for socialist transformation--even it is was from above. Binh should try to find the time to read Gabriel Kolko's "The Roots of American Foreign Policy". It reveals how deferential Stalin was to imperialist interests everywhere in the world outside Eastern Europe, which he intended to turn into a kind of Maginot Line. As a political/military strategist, Stalin was a true ninkumpoop.
Louis Proyect | Homepage | 11.01.07 - 9:10 pm | #
________________________________________
Imperialism is older than capitalism, e.g., Athens and Sparta were both imperialist, though neither was capitalist. The USSR wasn't capitalist-imperialist, but it was imperialist in the sense that most people, certainly those in the countries it wanted as "a buffer between itself and the anti-Communist West," recognized. Denying this won't make socialism popular.
Mike | 11.01.07 - 9:41 pm | #
________________________________________
If you want to call the USSR a non-capitalist imperialist power, you still have to explain why it was so indifferent to "conquest". Let me repeat myself. Until 1945, the USSR was an economic autarky that showed not the least interest in expansion. After losing 50 percent of its industrial base and about 24 million of its citizens in WWII, it made the decision to create a buffer between it and the West. If WWII had not happened, Eastern Europe would have remained capitalist. This being the case, it seems totally wrong to describe Stalin's Russia as a kind of latter-day Rome. Rome was expansionist at its outset.
Louis Proyect | Homepage | 11.02.07 - 9:51 am | #
The link is here:
http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/lin291007.html

Anonym said...

another post on Russia and the anniversary of the Great Socialist October Revolution on 7 November 1917. Anony-2 is the poster.
___________________________________
A massive amount of hypocrisy, historical and cultural ignorance and willful political fraud is driving a murderous gang that calls itself Maoists in Tamil Nadu.

Any group that has no shame in parading the name of Stalin as a savior of the workers, is either completely demented or is deliberately committing a cultural, political fraud on the people.

Sometimes more information, open air and sunshine kills even deadly germs. So let me add more information on the public arena so that they will at least have to work harder to fool the people and youth of Tamil Nadu. That is the most I can do at this point.

This is from a good web site
Open Democracy. No, it is not a site funded by 'Capitalist' machinations, in fact it is a firm leftist site, global in nature. Many an indian leftist writes here.
I read it get all perspectives in order to set my ethical compass in alignment with the welfare of the people of the world and India.

Quote:
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Published on openDemocracy (http://www.opendemocracy.net)
Russia's festive days: tides of history
By Zygmunt Dzieciolowski
Created 2007-11-02 13:32

For more than seventy years, the anniversary of the Great Socialist October Revolution on 7 November 1917 was celebrated in Moscow and across the vast territory of Russia and the rest of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the discordance of dates being explained by the post-revolutionary shift to a new calendar). The Soviet elite - members of the politburo, the top brass of the Red Army, cosmonauts and others would appear on a raised platform in Red Square - in front of Lenin's mausoleum - to view the gigantic military parade. Amidst these symbols of the nation's power, the speech of the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union would express his solidarity with peace-loving forces around the world and send a warning to capitalist enemies in the west.


This date was the centrepiece of the Soviet festive calendar, but around it clustered other days (May Day and Victory Day being the most prominent) which were integral parts of the communist state's symbolic architecture: as much part of Soviet life as the seasons of the year, and (since similar festivities took place in all the Soviet republics) a "binding" experience for this huge system.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 meant that some rebranding was required, whether by reversion to an older, pre-Soviet history or an invention of new celebratory moments in keeping with the rebirth of national statehood. The idea of cancelling the opportunity for festivity was unthinkable: after all, whatever the formal designation or political meaning, for most Soviet citizens the November or May events principally meant two days' holiday - a right they were not keen to give up after the little matter of the disappearance of their old state.

Communism's echo

Russia's first post-communist leader Boris Yeltsin was unready to call an abrupt halt to the annual Red Square promise of a glorious communist tomorrow. What to do? Yeltsin's advisors proposed keeping 7 November as a state holiday, but - now that the revolution was coming to be seen as the launch of seven decades of suffering and repression - renaming it as the Day of Accord and Reconciliation.

Most Russians themselves did not care as long as they could stay at home, as they had for many years past. But for the new Russian state, the problem of November was emblematic of its difficulty from the start. The older generations that had lived through Soviet times could hardly forget the rituals of their previous life. Meanwhile, the new generation faced with the hardships of a painful transition had more important concerns than to demand new rituals and celebrations. As a result very few people were even aware that the name of the 7 November holiday had changed; or (for example) that the whole nation was supposed to celebrate Russia Day on 12 June.
It wasn't just the calendar. Russians, even though (or perhaps because) their lives had changed dramatically were reluctant to say goodbye to some of the old system's relics. In most Russian towns it's not unusual to find streets with communist-era names: Komunisticheskaya (Communist), Sovietskya (Soviet), Oktiabrskaya (October), Lenina (Lenin), Komsomolskaya (Komsomol) and the like.

Lenin too is far from dead. Any attempt to bury his corpse and close his Red Square mausoleum is still met by energetic protests from the surviving Communist Party and its supporters. His statue remains a standard feature in the main square of most Russian towns.

I recently visited the large industrial centre of Tula, two hours' drive south of Moscow, where a freshly renovated Orthodox cathedral stood next to a huge statue of the founder of the Soviet state. As a stream of modern cars whizzed past ubiquitous advertising billboards projecting the new consumerist lifestyles, Lenin - hands in pockets, peering enigmatically towards the communist utopia - seemed like a figure from outer space. Would any harm be done if this monument - and thousands like it - was demolished? Probably not. But if some Russians would oppose such a decision, it is less because they remain fond of the old system than because of a feeling that its monuments are part of the nation's history and should be preserved rather than erased. Conservatism, not communism, demands that Lenin must stand forever in the heart of Tula.

Russia's call

In this sense the new system has been far less efficient than the old, communist one in cleansing evidence of the past it replaced. But if Russia has proved unable or unwilling to demolish the symbols and relics of the earlier era across its still (after the "loss" of the Soviet republics) vast territory, it has had little success in commemorating those who fought for democratic values in communist times.

In the 1990s, two impressive monuments honouring victims of the gulag - both designed by the legendary dissident artist Ernst Neizvestney - were raised: one in the far-east town of Magadan, and another in the southern Russian town of Elista, capital of the republic of Kalmykia. Very little else has been done to remember victims of state repression, yet some intellectuals - including supporters of Vladimir Putin, such as academician and senior Duma official Yevgeny Velikhov - advocate the building of a National Memorial Museum. In a recent TV interview, Velikhov - whose family suffered severe repression in the Stalin era - said that he appreciated the efforts of the "Memorial" organisation to research and record evidence of the tragic Russian-Soviet 20th-century past.

When listening to the trolley-bus announcements along Moscow's Garden Ring, I am always surprised when the next stop is "Academician Sakharov Prospect". The designation of one street in the capital's centre is a meagre honour from Moscow's city authorities to the legendary dissident, who did so much to defend human rights and destroy the communist system. There is also a Sakharov Museum, but it faces financial difficulties and has little official support.

Vladimir Putin's Russia instead has its own favoured symbols. It reinstated the old Soviet anthem, after a widespread sense that Yeltsin had been wrong to discard the song that had inspired Red Army soldiers in the "great patriotic war" against Nazi Germany. The new words were written by the same lyricist (Sergei Mikhalkov), though their nationalistic spirit was not much different to the old.

The Russian authorities followed in 2005 by introducing a new holiday, the Day of National Unity. They knew that citizens would be unhappy to lose their traditional two November days off, so chose a date close to the celebration of 1917. The designated holiday turned out to be 4 November, a day that - as most Russians would not know - was supposed to commemorate Russia's success in freeing itself from Polish occupiers in 1612.

In order to promote the new holiday, Russia's ministry of culture as well as the Kremlin-friendly oligarch Victor Vexelberg generously backed 1612 - a new film directed by the well-known filmmaker Vladimir Khotinenko. Its narrative is a reminder to Russians of the importance of the events of 400 years ago: and the Smuta (the "times of trouble"), when the Russian state was nearly destroyed both by internal chaos and by Polish-Lithuanian invaders but eventually recovered its integrity and its soul.

The majority of the population remained indifferent to the new national holiday, but one group did welcome it: radical nationalists who opposed immigration, supported traditional Russian Orthodox values and claimed to defend the Russian diaspora from alleged repression by the governments of (for example) Estonia and Latvia. In 2006, the Moscow administration banned the "Russian march", a mass demonstration organised by nationalist radicals intended to take place on 4 November. In 2007, both sides negotiated a compromise: the march will take place on the Shevchenko Embankment, next to the renovated Hotel Ukraine. Similar marches will be organised in other Russian cities; their contribution to Russian "national unity" will be close to nil.

Vladimir Putin enjoys high popularity ratings, but even his government's effort to appeal to Russians' patriotic feelings is unlikely to succeed. For most Russians, the priority is not patriotic slogans but material conditions: money and consumption, wages paid on time, improving standard of living, buying new cars and flats. After the turbulent period of perestroika and the chaotic Boris Yeltsin years, Vladimir Putin has brought a measure of (oil-and-gas-fuelled) stability to the country. As long as this continues, a majority of citizens is ready to close its eyes to the Kremlin's clampdown on democratic institutions and values.

At the same time Russians have no illusions. The Kremlin nomenklatura is concerned mainly about power and wealth; no high-ranking official can be expected to sacrifice them for the sake of patriotic values and the motherland. History has taught Russians to know when their rulers lie and when they tell the truth. They know that most of their national institutions now - their parliament, the constitutional tribunal, the central election commission, political parties - are just imitations; that "real" ones would look and act differently.

This is true too of the Day of National Unity. 4 November will come and go, a holiday nobody - except the Kremlin and radical nationalists - wants to celebrate.
___________________________
Among Zygmunt Dzieciolowski's recent articles on openDemocracy:

"How Russia is ruled [0]"(14 March 2007)

"New Russia, old Russia [0]" (5 April 2007)

"Boris Yeltsin, history man [0]" (24 April 2007)

"Russia's unequal struggle [0]" (18 May 2007)

"Russia's immigration challenge [0]" (15 June 2007)

"Tatyana Zaslavskaya's moment [0]" (20 July 2007)



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This article is published by Zygmunt Dzieciolowski , and openDemocracy.net under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.
_________________________________
Zygmunt Dzieciolowski is a Polish journalist and writer who has reported on Russia for leading German, Swiss and Polish newspapers since 1989.

He is the author of Planet Russia, published in Poland in 2005.


Among openDemocracy's many articles on Russia politics and society:

Alena V Ledeneva, "How Russia really works [0]" (16 January 2002)

Geoffrey Hosking, "Russians in the Soviet Union: rulers and victims [0]" (26 June 2006)

Christoph Neidhart, "Vladimir Putin, ‘Soviet man' who missed class [0]" (24 October 2006)

Ivan Krastev, "'Sovereign democracy', Russian-style [0]" (16 November 2006)

Oksana Chelysheva, "Russia's iceberg: a Nizhny Novgorod report [0]" (25 April 2007)

Tanya Lokshina, "Russian civil society: an appeal to Europe [0]" (30 April 2007)

George Schöpflin, "Russia's reinvented empire [0]" (3 May 2007)

Armine Ishkanian, "Nashi: Russia's youth counter-movement [0]" (30 August 2007)

Ivan Krastev, "Russia vs Europe: the sovereignty wars [0]" (5 September 2007)

said...

காத்திருக்கிறேன்.. நண்பர்களே.

இதற்கு பதில் எழுதியிருந்தீர்கள் என்றால், இங்கே பதியுங்கள்

Anonym said...

தமிழ்மணி அவர்களே,
அனானி -2 இன் அடுத்த பதிவு. அடுத்த முறை என் வலைப் பெயரில் போடுகிறேன்.
வரமாட்டார்கள். தம் பித்தளைக் கருத்துகளைத் தங்கம் என்று சொல்லிப் பிழைப்பதே வழக்கமான மார்க்சிய/ மாவோவிய/ லெனினியக் கூட்டம் எதிர்க் கேள்விகளை வரலாற்று ஆதாரங்களோடு கேட்கத் தெரிந்தவர்களைக் கண்டால் ஓடுவது உலகெங்கும் நடப்பதுதான். ஃப்ரெஞ்சு மாவோயிஸ்டுகள் இப்படித்தான் ஓடி ஒளிந்தார்கள்- அதிகாரம் என்பது இல்லாத சமுதாயம் ஏது என்ற சாதாரணக் கேள்விக்குப் பதில் சொல்ல இயலாமல். அதிகாரம் கையில் இருந்தால் கொடுஞ்சிறை அல்லது 'உழைப்பு முகாம்' அல்லது தூக்கு/ துப்பாக்கித் தோட்டா என்று தானே எதிர்க் கருத்துகளைச் சந்தித்துப் பழக்கம். அதிகாரம் இலலாத ஜார்கண்ட் பகுதிகளில் இரவில் ஒரு கொலைகாரக் கூட்டமாக வந்து குடும்பத்தோடு சுட்டுத் தள்ளும் மகா வீரர்கள் இவர்கள். கருத்து வாதம் செய்ய ஏன் வரப் போகிறார்கள்? உங்கள் IP முகவரி என்ன எப்படி வந்து தாக்கலாம் என்று தேடிக் கொண்டிருப்பார்கள்.
_________________________
இன்றைய அளிப்பு: இங்கு சேமிக்கப் பட்டு வரும் தகவல் குவியலுக்கு வலுச் சேர்க்க.
___________________________
ரஷ்யர் ஒருவர் புடின் எப்படி பழைய கம்யுனிச/ ஸ்டாலினிய அதிகார வெறி, கருத்து மமதை, மக்களைப் புழுவென நடத்தும் திமிர் ஆகியவற்றின் தற்கால வடிவமாக இன்று உருவெடுத்துள்ளார் என்பதை விளக்குகிறார்.
இது ஆங்கிலத்தில் இருக்கிறது. வாசகர்கள் பொறுக்கவும். இதை மொழிபெயர்த்துத் தருமளவு எனக்கு அவகாசம் இல்லை.
The New York Review of Books
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Volume 54, Number 18 · November 22, 2007

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Feature
Why Putin Wins
By Sergei Kovalev

I should begin by saying that I find the current president of Russia and his policies extremely offensive. I believe that Vladimir Putin is the most sinister figure in contemporary Russian history. From the very beginning of his rule he has directed—and almost completed—a broad antidemocratic counterrevolution in Russia. He has annihilated many civil rights in the country, among them such crucial freedoms as freedom of information. He has significantly restricted freedom of association and assembly, as well as the right to stage peaceful marches, protests, and demonstrations.

Putin's administration has consistently carried out a policy of smothering political opposition and has tried vigorously to illegally place independent, nonpolitical civil society activities under its control. I believe he has decimated the very concept of an independent judiciary. With his knowledge and agreement, and more likely by his direct instruction, dozens of my fellow citizens have had harsh, unjust, politically motivated prison sentences meted out to them. He therefore bears direct responsibility for the appearance of a new generation of political prisoners in Russia.

The Russian president is said to be the "guarantor of the constitution." But the man pledged to guarantee civil rights and human freedoms in our country has committed many grave acts of malfeasance, grossly violating the spirit and the letter of the constitution to which he has sworn his loyalty three times. To give only one example, he replaced the federal structure of the country with a strict unitary model of governance, with power concentrated in the Kremlin and with regional governments effectively subordinated to it. Regardless of which model one believes is better for Russia, this is a clear case of the President trampling on constitutional principles. He is responsible for the mass murder of peaceful civilians in Chechnya; and in foreign policy he has revived the pernicious Soviet concepts of being "surrounded by enemies" and a "world plot against Russia."

The attentive American reader is no doubt informed, if not in great depth or detail, about these and other current Russian political realities, which have often been described in the Western press, and I will not pursue them here. I will try instead to explain—as much to myself as to the reader—the secret of Vladimir Putin's popularity. How are we to understand Putin's electoral success in 2000, and again in 2004? This is not merely an academic question. In the West, but also in Russia— even from like-minded people—I often hear the following:

Well, yes, the Russian president is an unpleasant person. We can see the authoritarian, nearly totalitarian direction of his policies. But what can you do? He has won two elections with impressive results: 53 percent in 2000 and 71 percent in 2004. That must mean that his policies correspond to the hopes and aspirations of the people, and that he himself, like it or not, legitimately represents Russia. Or do you really think that both elections were so grossly falsified that the outcome was affected?

Americans in particular resort to this line of reasoning; it accords with their view of free, contested elections as the main criterion in determining whether a given country is a democracy. I do not think that Putin "really" lost the elections of 2000 and 2004. Rather, the Russian election laws have been so shamelessly distorted that they create an imitation of free elections without the slightest hint of transparent competition among political opponents. Putin would have won the campaigns of 2000 and 2004— though perhaps without such large, unseemly margins—even if they had been free of vote tampering and the illegal use of the government's so-called "administrative resources," and if the candidates had actually had equal access to the voters through television and the press.

But what did the majority of Russian citizens actually vote for in those two elections? Was it truly for Putin and his policies or for something else?

In answering this question, I should say that I do not know exactly what personal responsibility Vladimir Putin bears for the political policies carried out in his name. When I write "Putin," I am referring primarily to the policies and the entire web of political concepts generated in the bowels of the KGB—now called the FSB. I am not talking about the former KGB lieutenant colonel named Vladimir Putin personally; he is a man I don't know and have no desire to know.

I understand perfectly well, moreover, that Putin and Putinism were a product of the "wild Nineties," that his policies, in many respects, continue and develop tendencies already apparent under Boris Yeltsin, tendencies that became more extreme toward the end of Yeltsin's regime when Yeltsin himself—a sincere but extremely muddled and inconsistent politician, who understood only vaguely the transformations begun under his leadership—was losing control over events. But the question now is, why has Putinism prevailed over other possible paths of political evolution in Russia?

Our inquiry should not begin in August 1999, when President Yeltsin unexpectedly appointed a little-known officer of the secret services, who had briefly headed up the FSB, to the post of prime minister. Instead, we need to return to the events that shook Russia exactly eight years earlier. The shattering failure of the coup that took place in August 1991 was greeted with genuine popular rejoicing. Muscovites, supported by people throughout Russia, foiled an armed attempt by a number of Communist Party leaders to take power, thwart democracy, and halt the dismantling of the Soviet political system. The result was exactly the opposite of what the coup leaders wanted: the regime that controlled a third of the planet, that had appeared as eternal as the Egyptian pyramids, was relegated to the past—forever, as it seemed.

The very next day Boris Yeltsin, then president of the Russian Republic, confidently declared that Russia's democratic future and prosperity were assured. Many people understood of course that democracy would not triumph immediately; nor would the standard of living soon rise to American levels. It was obvious that the collapse of a great state would be an extremely painful and difficult process. However, no one anticipated the enormous increase in inflation only a year later; nor that tanks under Yeltsin's command would fire on the parliament two years later; nor that Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, would be reduced to blazing ruins by 1995.

We also didn't anticipate the high level of corruption in Yeltsin's government from top to bottom, or the merging of organized crime and business in both the state and private sectors. Nor did anyone anticipate the degree to which the government would engage in criminal behavior; nor the "delays" for months at a time in paying salaries and pensions. Nor so much else! We could not imagine that some six to eight years later the words "democracy," "pluralism," "multiparty system," and "human rights" would be used as obscenities by Russians.

In August 1991, who could have foreseen that by December 31, 1999, a broken, prematurely decrepit Yeltsin would say farewell and ask his country's forgiveness in his New Year's address and that his office would soon be occupied by a product of the very secret services that Yeltsin and the other "victors" of August 21, 1991, saw as the symbol and the center of absolute evil? And that the entire country, except for a handful of intellectuals and democratic politicians, would applaud this turn of events?

According to the Russian constitution, if the president resigns, he is replaced by the prime minister. Only three months after Yeltsin's resignation, Prime Minister Putin, acting president of Russia, who had not done anything of particular note other than provoke the second Chechen war, won the presidential election on the first ballot. He defeated not only the democrats, whose popularity was declining swiftly, but the main clown of the Russian political circus, the nationalist demagogue Vladimir Zhirinovsky. He also easily defeated the leader of the Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, who finished in second place. A short three years later, in December 2003, the "Putin Party," known as "Unified Russia," won key positions in the State Duma, from which the voters threw out both of the two democratic factions, the Union of Right Forces and Yabloko.

Russian and foreign analysts have several explanations for the extraordinary "Putin phenomenon." The first is that Putin gave Russian citizens what they had been longing for after the continual catastrophes of the 1990s: a feeling of relative stability and relative security. There is some truth in this view. Salaries are almost always being paid on time. The economy has stopped declining and there are even signs of growth. Pensions and social welfare payments are increasing although they are still far from adequate to provide a decent life. The percentage of citizens living below the poverty line has declined. The armed resistance of Chechen separatists has been almost completely suppressed. There have not been any major terrorist attacks for some time.

But exactly how stable is the current situation? I am certain that the bloody suppression of Chechen separatism has created a slow-burning fuse in the Russian south, and that the bomb at the end of the fuse will eventually explode. Many economists claim that the present level of well-being results from the convergence of several conditions that cannot last long. Others say that our economic stability is really stagnation, that the apparently favorable social and economic situation is based exclusively on the export of oil and gas, and that Russia will eventually be thrust into the ranks of the third world. For the sake of argument, let's say that my prognosis regarding the Caucasus is wrong, that economists are also wrong to predict a bleak future for Russia, and that the nation has the government to thank for the current sense of security and relative prosperity—although I don't see what particular actions of Putin's team have concretely achieved these results.

What is clear is that such achievements still fail to explain Putin's electoral successes. If in March 2004 they could be used for campaign propaganda, in March 2000 Putin had not been in power long enough to prove himself as a successful leader. All he had to show for himself were five months as prime minister under Yel-tsin, three months as acting president, and a renewed war in the Caucasus.

The war was truly popular among voters and undoubtedly had an enormous effect on the elections. The public easily accepted the official view that Chechens had carried out the barbaric bombings of apartment buildings in Moscow and Volgodonsk in 1999, especially since these events were preceded by the incursion into Dagestan by the Chechen leader Shamil Basaev and his band of "international warriors of Islam." Putin seemed obviously a man of great energy. Breaking a century-long tradition, he had actually been given authority to make political decisions. He instantly won over the man in the street with his vindictive retaliation in Chechnya. Opponents of the renewal of the Chechen war could simply no longer be heard. Was this perhaps the moment when the triumphal birth of the people's idol took place?

Whatever Putin promised the pop-ulation in early 2000—stability, prosperity, revenge against terrorists, swift victory over separatists—his rivals promised the same things. Among them were Zyuganov (who also promised social justice), Grigory Yavlinsky, and Zhirinovsky. (Yavlinsky, however, argued bravely against a military resolution of the Chechen problem. He paid for it by losing a large number of votes.) Why did the voters prefer a homely colonel with fishlike eyes?

Analysts sometimes explain Putin's success by saying it wasn't a vote "for" but a vote "against"—against the chaotic muddle of the late Yeltsin period; against the "democrats." When Russians use the word "democrats" with clear revulsion, they are not thinking of the concept of the people's sovereignty; the public is by and large scornfully indifferent to ideas. The President's advisers themselves take pains to use democratic rhetoric: Putin, they say, is a true "people's" leader; the "majority" supports him. He personifies a genuine, "distinctive" Russian democracy—as opposed to Egor Gaidar, Anatoly Chubais, Boris Nemstov, Grigory Yavlinsky, Irina Khakamada, Sergei Kovalev, and all the others detested as "democrats." The actual differences among these political figures, our real influence on the political events of the 1990s, or lack of it, are of no interest to the masses. What is important is that "democrats" "brought the country to ruin," handed it over to be pillaged by thieves and Americans.

I believe, on the contrary, that the catastrophes of the 1990s were the result of the absence of genuine freedom in the country. The trouble with Yeltsin's first team of politicians and administrators was not that they were ineffective as democrats, but that in truth they weren't democrats at all. That is why I went over to the opposition in about 1995. If I thought that Putin was elected by the people in revenge for the many failures and mistakes of that period, I wouldn't approve of such a "protest vote"—but I would understand it. But that is not why he was elected.

In reality, Putin was nominated to run for president as a member of Yeltsin's team, as his "heir." And here there is a paradox: in 1999 Yeltsin had no support among the elite or the broader population; his approval ratings could hardly have been lower. One would have thought that the very fact of being endorsed by Yeltsin would have reduced Putin's chances to zero. Yet Yeltsin's appointed heir left the other candidates far behind in the first round of elections!

Furthermore, even now, while "democrats" are seen as unpopular, Putin consistently describes his model of governing as "democracy," though he qualifies it with ambiguous labels conceived by his brain trust. Putinist democracy is either "managed" (the author of this oxymoron appears to be the political consultant Gleb Pavlovsky) or "sovereign" (a term favored by the deputy head of the presidential administration, Vladislav Surkov). The labels are intended to underscore our originality, our Russian identity. In fact, of course, they undermine the very idea of democracy; but how often do people think carefully about the true meaning of political adjectives? The word "democracy" has been hammered into our heads since Soviet times, when the adjective usually applied to it was "socialist." By now, of course, even the most dim-witted have realized that the word "democracy" as used by Putin means something quite different than it does when it is spoken by such traitors to the Motherland as Sergei Kovalev.

A third explanation of Putin's popularity is nostalgia for the Soviet past. As this argument goes, the people missed the Soviet regime and everything that symbolized it. And what was the essence of the Soviet regime—the KGB, those valiant Chekists, protecting the state from external and internal enemies. So, driven by nostalgia, they elected a KGB colonel as their leader. And he, in turn, restored the myths promoted by the Soviet secret police from the Cheka onward: the country is "surrounded by enemies" and infiltrated by a "fifth column"—a role currently assigned to nongovernmental organizations, particularly those concerned with the media and human rights, since they are presumed to be acting on orders from subversive foreign centers. (Some receive grants from foreign foundations.) Putin also resurrected the old Soviet symbols: the Stalinist anthem, the army's red banner. Many people are happy he's done so.

This view has its share of truth as well. I can imagine that people were nostalgic, not so much for the Soviet past as for a national history. In the last Soviet decades the myth was based on the creation of a new historic community, "the Soviet people." Unlike early Soviet ideology, this Brezhnev-era concoction was not focused on the future (i.e., we are the communards, the avant-garde of oppressed humanity, fighting for the bright, shining era to come), but on the past. The answer to the question "Who are we?" went as follows: "We are a people who have borne inhuman suffering in the twentieth century; yet we stride briskly from victory to victory. We suffered unprecedented losses during the war; but, led by the Communist Party, we saved the world from Nazism. We then found the strength to build a superpower, to put the first man in space, and to achieve nuclear parity with the other superpower—the US. This is our national identity."

Of course, there is some truth to this formula. But the claim for the beneficent role of the Communist Party is nothing but a lie. The central falsehoods are in the silences, the omissions. Saving the world from the Nazis turned into enslavement for Eastern Europe and a new global threat of Communist expansion. One was not supposed to mention the terrible sufferings of Soviet citizens—state terror, the persecution of dissent, the collectivization of the countryside and the subsequent famine, the colossal losses during the war, the ways the Party paid for its victories with millions of other people's lives and destinies.

This myth collapsed along with the USSR. The citizens of Russia, the largest remnant of the superpower, were left hanging, their national identity obscure. Alas, in the 1990s, the democrats didn't understand how important it was to honestly study and confront the Soviet past in order to define a national identity and bring together the different elements of Russian society. At the time it seemed that the only people thinking about this issue in Russia were the Memorial Society and a few other similar organizations. Things reached total absurdity when Yeltsin gave the Russian Academy of Sciences four months to develop a "national idea." Most people simply ignored the problems of historical memory or were afraid to deal with them, preferring to pretend that August 22, 1991, followed immediately after October 25, 1917.

Putin, however, understood perfectly well the importance of historical rhetoric in politics. (It sometimes seems to me surprising that he worked in the foreign section of the KGB and not in the "ideological" Fifth Directorate.) On coming to power, he began to inculcate his own historical mythology. These were the old Soviet myths, meticulously cleansed of Communist phraseology and the tragic undertones used in Brezhnev's pronouncements. For example, Putin replaced the memory of the war and its sacrifices—the central emphasis of the Brezhnev myth, its theodicy—with memory of the Victory.

The new generation brought up under the influence of Putin's mythology is frightening. For me it is personified by the crowds of youth striding through the metro stations on May 9, Victory Day, the day marking the end of World War II, chanting "RUS-SIA! RUS-SIA!" They don't understand that they are behaving like fascists, but instead see themselves as the grandchildren of Hitler's conquerors; and the terrifying thing is that they are in fact grandchildren of the generation that fought Hitler, and are betraying that heritage.

Putin has in effect created a myth of the imperial state—a myth derived from elements of pre-revolutionary Russian history and the Soviet past— that serves as a substitute for historical memory. There was a demand for such a surrogate myth and he met it, thus connecting his own regime with longstanding Russian traditions of authoritarian rule. His popularity owes a good deal to it. He stops short of being a "restorer" of the Soviet worldview, however. In 2000 this role belonged to the leader of the Communists, Zyuganov—and he received only 29 percent of the vote. Instead of restoring the Soviet worldview, Putin skillfully put forward a modern version of it. But he did this only after the elections of 2000.

Finally, we come to a fourth explanation. It is somewhat mystical, but it is often heard in private conversation and in newspaper articles: Putin's popularity turns on his "charisma." No one seems able to offer a coherent explanation of what, exactly, this charisma consists of; it is only clear that in this case it cannot be reduced simply to masculine charm or his public manner, which nevertheless seems to inspire trust in the ordinary person. However, when he uses expressions like "drown them in the shithole" (about Chechen separatists) or tells a foreign journalist to "get yourself circumcised," he hardly seems charismatic.

Is the 71 percent of the vote he received in 2004 convincing evidence of his popularity? I have never met anyone who likes Putin as a person. One answer to the riddle of his electoral success is quite simple and quite sad. For virtually the first time in history, Russian citizens were given the primary instrument of political democracy: direct and competitive elections. But they do not know why they need this instrument or how to make use of it. Eleven hundred years of history have taught us only two possible relationships to authority, submission and revolt. The idea of peacefully replacing our ruler through a legal process is still a wild, alien thought for us. The powers-that-be are above the law and they're unchangeable by law. Overthrowing them is something we understand. But at the moment, we don't want to. We've had quite enough revolution.

Let us recall the last Yeltsin elections—in 1996. At the beginning of the campaign, Yeltsin's approval ratings in the polls were between 5 and 10 percent. That was an accurate reflection of how the public felt about him. But as the elections neared, when it became clear that the question was whether or not Yeltsin would remain as the Little Father Tsar or whether it was time to get rid of him, the situation changed. People didn't really want to revolt: they had just successfully revolted against the Communists, and hadn't enough energy for a new upheaval. So they voted for Yeltsin again: unpopular, even detested as he was, he was still the president in power. The intensive propaganda campaign orchestrated in the press and television helped, of course.

Energy for revolt had not built up by March 2000 either, despite the setbacks Russia had experienced over the previous four years: Yeltsin's constant reshuffling of the cabinet, the crash of the ruble in 1998, the attempt to impeach Yeltsin in May 1999, and other misadventures. On the eve of the presidential election, Putin was not just a prime minister but a prince-regent, an acting head of state. Putin's Chekist past came in handy: since time immemorial the secret police have personified authority in Russia—and the pretender was propped up by the might of that mysterious, almost mystical power. He simultaneously represented the power of the official state—as acting president—and, as a Chekist, its innermost essence. People weren't just voting for Putin. They were voting for the scepter and the orb, the symbols of the tsar's power, and also for the sword and shield, the emblems of the Cheka-KGB.

Immediately following the tragedy of the apartment house bombings of 1999, suspicions were publicly voiced that the terrorist acts in Moscow and Volgodonsk were instigated by the Russian special forces in order to create a casus belli for the renewal of the war on Chechnya, giving Putin the opportunity to demonstrate his decisiveness. This is not the place to discuss whether or not these suspicions were well-founded. What is important is that the authorities did absolutely nothing to refute them. Furthermore, the electorate reacted with complete and utter indifference. I have met people who were convinced that the accusations were true, and yet they voted for Putin with equal conviction. Their logic is simple: genuine rulers wield the kind of power that can do anything, including commit crimes. The new boss of the country had proved that he was the real thing.

Growing suspicions that the special forces have been involved in a series of political murders, including the deaths of journalist Anna Politkovskaya and the former FSB émigré Alexander Litvinenko, now seem analogous to the accusations of 1998. The authorities make no attempt to refute such claims in the only way that would be convincing—with a transparent and scrupulous investigation. The murder in Qatar of the Chechen separatist leader Zelinkhan Yandarbiev by agents of the Russian special forces has now been established by the Qatar courts. But have these facts or the demonstrations of the President's "decisiveness" in dealing ruthlessly with two mass terrorist acts—the seizing of the theater in Moscow in 2002 and of the school in Beslan in 2004—caused any damage to the government's image? Even though hundreds of innocents were killed? I doubt it; more likely the reverse.

By 2004 the concepts of "absolute power" and the "special forces" had, in effect, merged with the monarchy's two-headed eagle, as had the Soviet anthem (enriched with the words "Motherland" and "God"). Putin's team quickly accomplished their most important task—the capture of television—and once it had been completed, the country was subjected to pervasive, incessant propaganda that was far more skillful, effective, and all-encompassing than anything the Soviets ever conceived. The mass media have relentlessly hammered home images of Putin as a charismatic ruler leading a national renaissance, while portraying Putinism as the guarantor of stability and order. They have drummed the values of the imperial state into the social mind. They have consistently caricatured and trivialized any alternative concepts of Russia's development, particularly those based on values of freedom and genuine, rather than "managed," democracy. In short, they have transformed all the diverse hypotheses about Putin's popularity from partial explanations into a single, dominant, and overwhelming reality.

The ideological ingredients of Putinism existed in the consciousness of a part of the population long before Putin's rule; his "team" transformed them into usable modern propaganda and aggressively rebroadcast them to the whole country. It appears that this propaganda campaign has been successful—particularly among young people. The members of the political elite are even more profoundly attached than the masses to the idea of the immutable dominance of the powers-that-be, because it is their own position that is in question. But infusing the values of the imperial state into the public mind is only an intermediate goal for the Russian political establishment. The main goal is to entirely eradicate European mechanisms of power transfer in Russia and to consolidate the Byzantine model of succession.

For this reason it really doesn't matter what will be the outcome of the current intrigue over different "scenarios" for the presidential election of 2008. In fact, it seems that a scenario has already been chosen—Putin will simply move from the post of president to that of prime minister, and a corresponding redistribution of authority to the prime minister's office will take place. This means that in 2008, it will not be a "pretender" or even an "heir" who wins the elections, but an obvious figurehead.

What should be done if one can-not accept the Byzantine system of power? Retreat into the catacombs? Wait until enough energy for another revolt has been accumulated? Try to hurry along revolt, thereby posing another "orange threat," which Putin and his allies have used, since the 2004 Ukrainian elections, to frighten the people and themselves? Attempt to focus on the demand for honest elections? Carry on painstaking educational work, in order to gradually change citizens' views?

Each person will have to decide in his or her own way. I imagine—with both sorrow and certainty—that the Byzantine system of power has triumphed for the foreseeable future in Russia. It's too late to remove it from power by a normal democratic process, for democratic mechanisms have been liquidated, transformed into pure imitation. I am afraid that few of us will live to see the reinstatement of freedom and democracy in Russia. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that "the mole of history burrows away unnoticed."

—October 25, 2007

—Translated from the Russian by Jamey Gambrell


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