Voices from Russia

Friday, 27 October 2017

Revisiting the 1917 October Revolution

Although it didn’t live up to all of its ideals, the world was a better place for the USSR. After all, the USA didn’t live up to all of its ideals, either…

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To some the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia still stands, a hundred years on, as the single most important emancipatory event in human history. For such people, it commands greater importance than the Reformation or the American and French Revolutions preceding it, in that it went further than religious or political emancipation to engender social emancipation; and with it, an end to the exploitation of man by man that describes the human condition fashioned under capitalism. Meanwhile, to its detractors, October ushered in a dark night of communist tyranny that, per Marx, profaned all that was holy and all that was solid melted into air. This rendering considered October, along with fascism, to have been part of a counter-Enlightenment impulse, one that arrived as the harbinger of a new dark age. However, the attempt to place communism and fascism in the same category is facile in the extreme; it fails the test of history. The real and historically accurate relationship between both of those world-historical ideologies is that fascism was responsible for starting the Holocaust, but communism (in the shape of the Soviet Red Army) ended it.

That Russia in 1917 was the least favourable country of any in Europe for socialist and communist transformation is indisputable. Marx averred in his works that the starting point of communism is when a society’s productive forces have developed and matured to the point where existing forms of property relations act as a brake on their continuing development. By then, the social and cultural development of the proletariat incubated a growing awareness of their position within the existing system of production, thereby effecting its metamorphosis from a class “in itself” to a class “for itself” and, with it, its role as the agent of social revolution and transformation. Marx wrote:

No social order ever perishes before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have developed; and new, higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself.

The error in Marx’s analysis was that rather than emerge in the advanced capitalist economies of Western Europe, communism emerged on the periphery of the capitalist centres (Russia, China, and Cuba et al) under conditions, not of development or abundance, but under-development and scarcity. From a vantage of exile in Switzerland, Lenin saw with uncommon clarity how the First World War presented revolutionaries across Europe with a clear choice. They could either succumb to national chauvinism, fall into line behind their respective ruling classes, and support their respective countries’ war efforts, or they could use the opportunity to agitate among the workers of said countries for the war to be turned into a civil war in the cause of worldwide revolution. It was a choice separating the revolutionary wheat from its chaff, leading to the collapse of the Second International, as (with few exceptions) former giants of the international Marxist and revolutionary socialist movement succumbed to patriotism and war fever. Lenin observed:

The war came; the crisis was there. Instead of revolutionary tactics, most of the Social-Democratic [Marxist] parties launched reactionary tactics, went over to the side of their respective governments and bourgeoisie. This betrayal of socialism signifies the collapse of the Second (1889-1914) International; we must realise what caused this collapse, what brought social-chauvinism into being and gave it strength.

The ensuing chaos, carnage, and destruction wrought by four years of unparalleled conflict brought the so-called civilised world to the brink of collapse. The European continent’s ruling classes unleashed an orgy of bloodshed in the cause not of democracy or liberty, as the Entente powers fatuously claimed, but over the division of colonies in Africa and elsewhere in the undeveloped world. From the left, or at least a significant section of the international left, the analysis of October and its aftermath is coterminous with the deification of its two primary actors… Lenin and Trotsky… and the demonisation of Stalin, commonly depicted as a peripheral player who hijacked the revolution upon Lenin’s death, whereupon he embarked on a counter-revolutionary process to destroy its gains and aims. Isaac Deutscher wrote in the second volume of his magisterial three-part biography of Trotsky, The Prophet Unarmed:

The Bolsheviks were aware that only at the gravest peril to themselves and the revolution could they allow their adversaries to express themselves freely and to appeal to the Soviet electorate. An organised opposition could turn the chaos and discontent to its advantage even more easily because the Bolsheviks were unable to mobilise the energies of the working class. They refused to expose themselves and the revolution to this peril.

The harsh reality is that the cultural level of the country’s nascent and small proletariat, whose most advanced cadre perished in the Civil War, was too low for it to take the kind commanding role in the organisation and governance of the country Lenin had hoped and anticipated. He had to admit:

Our state apparatus is so deplorable, not to say wretched, that we must first think very carefully how to combat its defects, bearing in mind that these defects are rooted in the past, which, although it’s been overthrown, hasn’t yet been overcome, hasn’t yet reached the stage of a culture, that has receded into the distant past.

Stalin’s victory in the struggle for power within the leadership in the wake of Lenin’s death in 1924 was, if we believe conventional wisdom, due to his Machiavellian subversion and usurpation not only of the party’s collective organs of government but the very ideals and objectives of the revolution itself. However, this describes a reductive interpretation of the seismic events, both within and outside Russia, that were in train at this point. Despite Trotsky’s determination to hold onto the belief in the catalysing properties of October with regard to European and world revolution (which he shared with Lenin), by 1924 it was clear that the prospect of any such revolutionary outbreak in the advanced European economies was over, and that socialism in Russia would have to be built, per Bukharin, “on that material which exists”. Trotsky and Lenin’s faith in the European proletariat proved wrong, while Stalin’s scepticism in this regard proved justified. Returning to Isaac Deutscher:

After four years of Lenin’s and Trotsky’s leadership, the Politburo couldn’t view the prospects of world revolution without scepticism… Stalin wasn’t content with broad historical perspectives that seemed to provide no answer to burning, historical questions… extreme scepticism about world revolution and confidence in the reality of a long truce between Russia and the capitalist world were the twin premises of his [Stalin’s] “socialism in one country”.

The five-year plans introduced by Stalin, beginning in 1928, took place under conditions of absolute necessity in response to the gathering storms of war in the West. Stalin declared in 1931:

We’re fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this lag in ten years. Either we do it or they crush us.

When it comes to those who cite the human cost of October and its aftermath as evidence of its unadulterated evil, no serious student of the history of Western colonialism and imperialism could possibly argue its equivalence when weighed on the scales of human suffering. Here, Alain Badiou reminded us:

The huge colonial genocides and massacres, the millions of deaths in the civil and world wars through which our West forged its might, should be enough to discredit, even in the eyes of “philosophers” who extol their morality, the parliamentary regimes of Europe and America.

Ultimately, no revolution or revolutionary process ever achieves the ideals and vision embraced by its adherents at the outset. Revolutions advance and retreat under the weight of internal and external realities and contradictions until they arrive at a state of equilibrium that conforms to the limitations imposed by the particular cultural and economic constraints of the space and time in which they are made. Although Martin Luther advocated the crushing of the Peasants Revolt led by Thomas Munzer, can anyone gainsay Luther’s place as one of history’s great emancipators? Likewise, whilst the French Revolution ended not with liberty, equality, fraternity, but Napoleon, who can argue that at Waterloo the Corsican general’s Grande Armée fought for the cause of human progress against the dead weight of autocracy and aristocracy represented by Wellington? In a similar vein, Stalin’s socialism in one country and resulting five-year plans allowed the USSR to overcome the monster of fascism in the 1940s. This is why, in the last analysis, the fundamental metric of the 1917 October Revolution is the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942. Moreover, for that, whether it cares to acknowledge it or not, the world will forever be in its debt.

26 October 2017

John Wight

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201710261058554269-october-revolution-1917/

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Monday, 7 March 2016

Churchill’s Fulton Speech 70 Years On: What’s Changed? What Hasn’t?

00 Victory

This was the reality at the end of World War II… note well that Truman and Churchill HATED it. The USSR didn’t have the ability to start a war at that time, devastated as it was (after all, most of the major battles in Europe occurred on its territory). The “conservative” narrative was a conscious lie from the start… what does that tell us about William F Buckley and his drooling acolytes such as Rod Dreher? I’ll leave that to you…

American “conservatism” was evil from the top… it defended slavery, it defended the Gilded Age rape of the country by the trusts, it defended and defends the post-World War II warmongering of the USA, it defends the successful “war” against the working people of this country waged by the One Percent. No Christian can have anything to do with such a diabolical ideology… if it means that “conservatives” attack me savagely for saying such, so be it. Hier stehe ich… ich kann NICHT anders!

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5 March is the 70th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s speech at Westminster College in Fulton MO, considered by many historians to signify the beginning of the Cold War. In a reflective article, Russian historian Dmitri Kosyrev contemplated on the world born by the speech, and its enduring relevance today. In a piece published by RIA Novosti, Kosyrev gave his view of the speech and its ramifications.

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The Cold War generals of today have something in common with Churchill, a theoretician, practitioner, strategist, and ideologist of this war, [although naturally they can’t match his historical magnitude]. Certainly, we can see that the 70th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s speech at Fulton (5 March 1946 at Westminster College in Missouri in the USA) was the “birthday” of the Cold War… that is, of the confrontation between the West and the USSR/Russia. However, there’s something much more interesting in this speech; namely, it was the proclamation of an ideology and strategy of a new global era, on which the sun is only just now beginning to set.

However, first, a couple of small details of the larger picture… the term “Cold War” wasn’t Churchill’s creation, but that of his fellow countryman, the writer George Orwell, who first used it in 1945. With these words, the author outlined the future state of relations between countries which would acquire nuclear weapons, but remain afraid to use them. Soon, he’d accuse the USSR of beginning such a war against Britain and the USA. Gradually, the term would take root. However, at Fulton, it didn’t yet exist. Instead, it’d be there that the term “Iron Curtain” would find its first use. It wasn’t Churchill offering to erect it in front of the Soviets; he believed that Moscow had already done so, thus partitioning Europe.

Taken as a starting point for the beginning of the confrontation between the former allies, one could say that the speech was an arbitrary choice… there might have been other pretexts or speeches before it. Nevertheless, the fact is that Churchill was a great strategist, speaker and writer, and although he was no longer the leader of Britain at the time, his thoughts and his words carried weight in and of themselves. Especially, given the fact that US President Harry Truman was with him at Fulton. So, 1946… why did the retired politician decide to come down on the USSR, and, more importantly, why does his speech remain unforgotten to this day? The answer is that Churchill wasn’t speaking only strictly about the USSR. He was laying out his vision of the world that he felt needed to be built following the Second World War… the world as a whole. He took to goal setting, and on a truly global scale.

Most importantly, the world heard him, and the world which he proposed began to be built. In world history, it’s a rare case when one person can formulate the direction in which so many people and countries will then follow for so many decades. Churchill’s speech sounded amidst ideological confusion, fatigue, and vacillation, the cause of which he eloquently described. The post-war devastation, ration cards (including in the UK), communists coming to power across Europe, in half of the latter under the direct influence of the USSR. Churchill answered important questions for the Western world, including “Where will we go? ‘What kind of a world do we want?” Most importantly, “Who are ‘we’?'” The essence of the speech lies in the answer to the last question. At the beginning of the speech, Churchill clearly identified what not every Briton was willing to say out loud; namely, “the USA stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power”. Before the war, the sole superpower was the British Empire, an empire which he would lead. The balance of global power had changed, and he proclaimed this at Fulton.

However, from this shift, from his own country’s disaster, Churchill concluded, “Opportunity is here and now, clear and shining for both our countries… and not only for them, but for the English-speaking peoples; that is, the former dominions of the British Crown… Canada, Australia, New Zealand. That’s what he said in Fulton… the need for not just an alliance between the USA and the UK, as in the days of the war, but for the strengthening of Anglo-Saxon unity, and not for the creation of a US-European “Atlantic” partnership… in this, Churchill’s successors were successful, although this concept wasn’t formalised by any explicit agreement. In Russian, this idea even has a contemporary nickname, born of a high-ranking diplomat, who remains nameless, “Naglo-Saxons” [the word nagliy means “brazen” or “brash” in Russian].

Several days after Fulton, Churchill received a response from [Soviet leader] I V Stalin. In an interview for Pravda, Stalin took great notice of the “Anglophone” idea of his sworn partner at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam. Asked whether Churchill’s speech had caused harm to the cause of global peace and security, Stalin replied:

Certainly. The essence of the affair is that Mr Churchill now assumes the position of a warmonger. Mr Churchill isn’t alone in this; he has friends not only in England but also in the USA. One should note that Mr Churchill and his friends strikingly recall in this respect Hitler and his friends. Hitler began the task of unleashing war by proclaiming a racial theory, declaring that only people who spoke the German language constituted a full-fledged nation. Mr Churchill, too, has begun the task of unleashing war with a racial theory, stating that only nations that speak the English language are full-fledged nations that are called upon to rule the destinies of the world… in essence, Mr Churchill and his friends in England and the USA presented non-English-speaking nations with something like an ultimatum… recognise our dominance voluntarily and then all will be in order; in the contrary case, war is inevitable.

Stalin described the weakness of Churchill’s position very accurately, but the Fulton speech compensated for it by clearly proclaiming not just the ideological basis of the confrontation with the communist USSR, but also a moral and values-based “exceptionalism” of the English-speaking nations against everyone else. This is what we continue to hear from them to this day, although communism in our country is long gone; today, this “excpetionalism” is now called “universal values”… the current unenviable fate of Europe, including the Transatlantic Partnership, written according to American standards, all comes from there… from the Fulton speech. Through the eyes of someone living in 2016, Churchill’s idea may seem mad, but in 1946, everything was logical. The nuclear monopoly of the USA plus the joint use of British naval and air bases all across the globe… and, the USSR excepted, there were no competitors. Relations between London and Washington had their ups and downs, but in general, through the past 70 years, they really did build “the world according to Churchill”. Today, we’re living in the sunset of this era.

Of course, in 1946, Sir Winston couldn’t have known that the world would be so different; then, China was in ruins, India was still a part of the British Empire, Africa consisted almost exclusively of colonies, which is not to mention the impending end of the American nuclear monopoly. Nevertheless, in spite of the changes, Churchill and those inspired by his ideology tried very hard, and even only 15 years ago it may have seemed that the goals he had set had been successfully realised. Finally, Churchill stands at the very top of the pyramid of the historical haters of Russia… as a theorist and practitioner, as a strategist and ideologist. It’s possible and necessary to say whatever one likes about him, but he was a figure of immense historical magnitude, including thanks to the Fulton speech.

Today… who do we have today that lives by the symbols of the Cold War? Perhaps, the commander of NATO forces in Europe, General Philip Breedlove? Let’s take a listen:

Russia doesn’t want to challenge the agreed rules of the international order. It wants to rewrite them; Russia has chosen to be an adversary and poses a long-term existential threat to the USA and to our European allies and partners. Russia and the Assad régime are deliberately weaponising migration from Syria in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve. The USA and its allies are preparing to fight and win if necessary against Russia.

Perhaps there’s something Churchillian in these words, but Breedlove is no Churchill.

5 March 2016

Sputnik International

http://sputniknews.com/politics/20160305/1035843449/churchill-fulton-speech.html

Sunday, 18 October 2015

18 October 2015. Here’s What Real Russians Really Think About Comrade Stalin… Victor Potapov Lies… He Honours the Archtraitor Krasnov Instead

00 thank you grandpa for the victory 2012. 270815

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00 thank you grandpa for the victory surgut. 270815

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THIS is what REAL Russians feel about Comrade Stalin. Victor Potapov is a brazen liar and he was wrong to have used the ROCOR official website to attack Comrade Stalin. Potapov didn’t mention his personal links with the CIA as a paid minion and his family’s links with KONR Nazi collaborators, did he? A section of the ROCOR has never truly accepted the Reconciliation of 2007. If Potapov had been sincere, he would’ve publicly disavowed his role as a CIA propagandist at Radio Liberty (and asked public forgiveness for having hurt Holy Rus)… the late great Joe Adamov did likewise… Potapov always screams about “repentance”… he should follow his own advice!

Until they publicly repent of their treasonous activities against Holy Rus and its indivisible history, we really should treat Potapov, Webster, and those like them as the Sergianists and “Chekists in riassas” that they are. Interesting, Potapov accused others of being Sergianists and “Chekists in riassas” when he was, perhaps, the most stunning example of such. Remember… a Sergianist is one who sucks up to the powers-that-be and a “Chekist in a riassa” is  a priest who willingly works with the special services. Potapov was both, and in a major way. I prefer a Comrade Stalin with blood on his hands to a priest who willingly worked for the enemies of Holy Rus (and expects praise for it) and who assiduously worked for the downfall of the Russian state. I’m not alone in thinking that way… Potapov is one of the most-hated clergymen in the diaspora.

Have a care, the times are evil and the most disgusting flowers of evil grow in the shadow of the altar. God do spare us all…

BMD

Sunday, 16 August 2015

16 August 2015. Translated Russian Demot… Take Vengeance Against the Fascists in the Donbass!

00 take venegeance in the donbass! 160815

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Many in Russia, including most Orthodox believers, see I V Stalin very differently than brainwashed clueless Westerners do. They acknowledge his cruelty… but they also acknowledge his leadership… a leadership that saw the USSR defeat Nazi Germany almost singlehandedly and allowed the USSR to successfully hold its own against American neoliberal aggression. I stand with our Russian compatriots on this one… not with the loudmouth Far Right elements in our Church in the diaspora. To acknowledge Stalin as a great historical figure and a great leader isn’t the same as approving of his methods. After all, most of his critics in Russian diaspora Church circles have close family ties to Russian Nazi collaborators… fancy that…

At a time of crisis, I V Stalin preserved the naroda… the relatives of his critics cravenly stabbed the naroda in the back to benefit those who considered us Untermenschtum (Sub-Humanity). Which one do you back? Need I tell you where I stand?

BMD

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