Cross posted at: Bazm-e-Rinda’n
Tariq Ali is one of the icons of progressive movement. He was one of the leaders of the 1968 revolution which gave birth to the “New Left”. Few Pakistanis have influenced global thought as did Tariq Ali. A Marxist with a very strong anti imperialist base Ali is part of the global of Anti globalization movement.
I have strong ideological differences with Ali on Left strategy . But what he is saying is very important especially his understanding of Pakistani state and its dependent elites. University of California at Berkeley recorded a series “Conversations with History” featuring influential intellectuals.
One of them was Tariq Ali and whatever he says is very important.
Most of his talks about PPP shouldn’t be taken seriously because he had personal issues with Benazir Bhutto.He was one of the persons who thought of the idea of a non stalinist popular Socialist Party with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He contributed in writing the fundamental documents of PPP which are one of the most radical documents. His later differences with ZAB though were ideological but were also personal. He worked with Benazir Bhutto during Anti-Zia resistance but he never accepted the fact that people of Pakistan loved Bhuttos more than a pure Marxist intellectual . This attitude is hallmark of most Pakistani Marxists and the result is their failure to either build a strong Marxist party in Pakistan or to intervene meaningfully in the PPP [with which they all have a twisted love-hate relationship]. Due to this reason most of them lack objectivity when they speak about PPP even though their ideological stand is correct.
Take the following talk by Ali. He is criticizing Benazir Bhutto and the “family politics”. But in his personal grudge he falsifies facts. He says that Benazir Bhutto writes in her will [on which he tactfully casts doubt as well] that “My son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari” will head the party” than we hear the usual rant . He is just a kid studying some where bla bla and the party being a family fiefdom . Party shouldnt be a family fiefdom but lets get the Facts right.
Benazir Bhutto never left PPP to Bilawal Bhutto. Its absolutely rubbish and a total lie spread by the right and naive lefti friends like Tariq Ali who never bother to read that “will” which they curse all the time
Benazir Bhutto clearly wrote in the will that if she was no more than party consider Mr Asif Ali Zardari as a leader for the “interim period”. She clearly mentioned why she is suggesting his name. She mentioned because in a period of crisis party needs a unifying figures to prevent split [dangerous consequence Pakistan Na Khappey etc]. She made it clearly that its a “temporary arrangement” till the party’s Central Executive Committee decides who will be leader of the Party. It must be clear that for this decision she absolutely left No directive to party. She didnt left a will for her son to be leader. She never said that leader must be from her family.
When the will was read at the CC , it was the CC which decided that Asif Ali Zardari will be a “co chairman” and Bilawal Bhutto be the Chairman. The decision was unanimous. Benazir ’s Will just gave Zardari the leadership for 2/3 days. It was the party which decided in his favor after a lengthy discussion. Moreover the millions of people who were surrounding Nodero were not ready to accept anyone else apart from Sanam Bhutto or Bilawal. The mood was such that most of the leaders of PPP were hiding from the crowd who wanted to kill them for failing to save Benazir. If anyone of you was there he/she will know what i am talking about. If you watched Geo than forget it.
Now regarding Bilawal being a kid and studying somewhere Tariq Ali conveniently forgets he is in Oxford just like Benazir Bhutto and Tariq Ali. Tariq Ali himself was a student in Oxford when was leading the European youth revolution of 1968/69. He is forgetting his own “Street Fighting Years”. Before condemning fiefdoms , Mr Ali must remember he also “inherited” his Marxism . He is son of veteran communist activists of CPI Mr Mazhar Ali [Nawabzada] and Tahira Mazher Ali [One who reportedly showed Mr Jinnah the pamphlet of Communist Party of India in favor of Pakistan as a young girl riding a bicycle] . Ali family was also aristocrats and it was this background which put him in Oxford just like Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and where he became president of Oxford Union [just like Benazir Bhutto]. Ali knows very well that most kids his age in Pakistan who were part of 68/69 ended up in Lahore Fort and lost their lives or ruined it. Only family wealth put Ali in Oxford and put him in contact with European Left whose blued eyed boy he became.
Comrade when you were resisting the empire in westminister with Hollywood celebrities Bhutto’s were being murdered along with the working class workers of the party . Thats what made them leaders . So that you can write novels about them and make films on them and earn millions and than falsify facts.
Food for thought: If PPP is such a family fiefdom why it was not inherited by Murtaza Bhutto and what forces the people of Larkana not to vote for Ginwa Bhutto?? by all laws of society its the male who is heir of father. Benazir didnt inherited she won it. By her struggle by her jails by her contact. Same is with Bilawl, he will only be the leader if he earns it like her mother or will end up like Mumtaz Bhutto and Ginwa Bhutto.!!
Once again Iranians have demonstrated that this revolution will not end till Iran is free of Mullahs. One must understands that movement is going on despite unprecedented tyranny. Activists have been murdered, tortured and raped [both males and females]. The yazid of Iran refuses to step down but let it be known to him that Iran will not surrender. Today every one is Iran is shouting
Death to Dictator
Death to Dictator
Curse on Ahmedinijad and his anti semitism
Death to the evil regime
Death to Imperialism
Long Live People of Iran
From : The BBC
Thousands of opposition supporters have clashed with security forces during a government-sponsored rally in Tehran.
Iran’s reformists had been warned not to try to turn the pro-Palestinian Quds (Jerusalem) Day marches into anti-government protests.
Reports say opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and former President Mohammad Khatami were attacked.
The opposition has been banned from holding rallies since the disputed presidential election in June.
As part of the Quds Day events, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a speech in which he repeated his view that the Nazi Holocaust was a myth.
The Quds Day rallies are held annually on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
BBC former Tehran correspondent Jim Muir
Thousands of opposition protesters rose to the call of their leaders.
It was the first time in two months they have been out on the streets in numbers.
There have been mounting calls in right-wing circles for reformist leaders to be arrested, as hundreds of their followers have been. That could be the next phase of the drama.
The protests may not have achieved much in themselves but they have shown that the movement is still alive and defiant and the country, and its political system, remain deeply divided.
That is not what Mr Ahmadinejad wanted to see as he prepares for important exchanges with the outside world.
The day began peacefully, with thousands of Mr Ahmadinejad’s supporters marching through central Tehran.
But despite warnings by the authorities not to try to hijack the event, protesters shouted slogans in support of Mr Mousavi, a key opponent of the president.
Reports say there were clashes between police and protesters as the march progressed, with some arrests. Stones were thrown, and police used tear gas.
Iranian state-run channel Press TV showed footage of an opposition rally, with many supporters wearing green, the colour adopted by supporters of Mr Mousavi.
Mr Mousavi was forced to leave the rally after his car was attacked, the official Irna news agency reported.
Witnesses said supporters helped Mr Mousavi into his car when hardliners approached and the vehicle sped away as a crowd tried to hold the hardliners back.
Reformist website Parlemennews.ir reported that Mr Khatami was pushed to the ground and his turban knocked off, before police intervened.
In his speech at Tehran University, Mr Ahmadinejad again criticised the creation of Israel.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Mr Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust was “abhorrent as well as ignorant”.
“It is very important that the world community stands up against this tide of abuse,” Mr Miliband said.
For the past 30 years, the sermon on Jerusalem Day has been given by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.
The BBC’s former Tehran correspondent Jim Muir says Mr Rafsanjani is normally regarded as a pillar of the Islamic power system, but he quietly sympathises with the opposition.
This year he has been stood down in favour of a hard-line preacher.
Mr Mousavi was defeated by President Ahmadinejad in June’s election, which opposition leaders claim was rigged.
In the aftermath, there was a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters, with a number of deaths and hundreds of people arrested
By Michael T. Luongo
April 29 – May 5, 2004
Gay City News
New York, New York
With thanks: Global Gayz.Com
Many travel writers concentrate on beaches, pools, and colored cocktails in sunset lounges.I have done all of that for sure, but last fall I found myself in Afghanistan, a nation at the center of the upheaval and change roiling the world.
I’ve had a curiosity about Afghanistan since childhood that began with the 1979 Soviet invasion. Breshnev-era images of tanks rolling over mountains and the brave Afghans defending their homeland on horseback have stayed with me my whole life.Yet, I also live in New York, whose history is now forever linked with Afghanistan.
A few days after September 11, I was on a Ground Zero bucket brigade clean-up crew. Our task was clearing debris from a fire truck on what had been the West Side Highway. It was only for one day, and I only had the opportunity to be there because my brother-in-law is a police officer and got me access.Surrounded by the acres of rubble that were once the Twin Towers, I thought about my intense interest in Afghanistan and resolved to travel there in the hopes of better understanding what had happened here.
Most Americans have shunned international travel since 9/11, but for me the tragedy instilled a sense of camaraderie with war-torn areas. I felt that New York had become a war-torn city myself, so visiting another didn’t seem daunting to me. In the two years between 9/11 and my visit to Afghanistan, my curiosity about the country’s gay life was also piqued. I frequently ran across articles hinting at widespread traditional Afghan acceptance of homosexuality. The New York Times mentioned boys covered in make-up who greeted U.S. soldiers.
Details magazine discussed the homosocial standards of much of Islamic culture, based on separation of the genders, and reviewed Trolley Press’ 2003 book “Taliban,” in which photographer Thomas Dworzak presented images of effeminate Taliban warriors that he unearthed.
I also read “An Unexpected Light,” by British adventurer Jason Elliot, which discussed war-weary Afghan men who expressed delight about his soft skin when he visited during the Russian invasion.All these works, and others, however, were compiled by straights who wavered between curiosity and repulsion at the phenomena they discussed.
To the best of my knowledge, no gay Westerner had infiltrated gay Afghan life. I decided I would be the one to do this. But every Afghan American I knew was worried about the prospect of my traveling to their country on such a mission, especially the members of the Afghan-American Peace Corps, formed by members of the Afghan Diaspora living in New York who wanted to aid their homeland in the wake of 9/11.
As I planned my trip in consultation with AAPC members, they backed out of their mission to bring cows they would purchase in Pakistan to widows in rural Afghan regions for safety reasons. In the end somewhat reluctantly I traveled alone, relying on contacts given me by friends.My fears, and those of my Afghan American friends, proved unfounded.
By the fall of 2003, Kabul was relatively safe. I often wandered the streets alone, even after nightfall. Most Kabulites were happy to meet foreigners, especially Americans. The city was rapidly rebuilding with new shops sprouting next to piles of rubble. There was even a tourist district along Chicken Street where souvenir and rug vendors sought the attention of soldiers, foreign workers, diplomats, and the odd backpacker.
To be sure, all of this vitality was mixed with children begging, legless mine victims on crutches, and women who remained true to the tradition of wearing burqas. But, Kabul was undoubtedly undergoing a revolution of investment and modernization, post-Taliban. I also found that homosexuality easily came up in conversation, even with some government officials. An Afghan national who worked in a Western embassy but only wanted to be identified by his first name, Mohammed, gave me historical background on the topic. Certain Afghan tribes, he explained, especially the Uzbeks and Pashtuns, were known for male sexual behavior.
The city with the greatest reputation for active homosexuality was Kandahar, the headquarters of the Taliban. According to Mohammed, male couples “were even holding wedding ceremonies after the Taliban arrived.” The Taliban tried to control it, he explained, but “it was so common in Kandahar, they were able to embrace it.”
Apparently, traditions of homoerotic behavior have come down from ancient times in Afghanistan. These customs carry on to this day, according to Mohammed, at rural weddings where dancer-boys entertain male crowds, wearing anklets that make music as they move.
Sometimes, he explained, they “dress him like a woman.” Many of the boys are available for sex.“It has two parts––the dancing part and the sexual part,” Mohammed said. “The sexual part, no one will confess.”These relationships seem to be widely known, even acknowledged implicitly, but they are far less often discussed openly and they are illegal.“
The sexual part, it’s a problem,” Mohammed said. “The man and the boy can go to jail.” I wanted to go to Kandahar because its homosexual reputation seemed most pronounced, and Mohammed’s stories about the city involved relationships between grown men, rather than a man with a youth, as seemed more common elsewhere. Kandahar’s reputation for homosexuality also came up in discussions with some young men I photographed in Kabul’s Babur Gardens pool.
The comfort Afghan men have with their bodies surprised me. Some willingly posed semi-nude in front of a foreigner’s camera. The fall of the Taliban appears to have unleashed a cult of working out. Some of these men proudly asked me to photograph them at their pools, saunas, and gyms. Several of the gyms sported pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger, still more famous there for his muscles than his politics. At the pool, when I questioned the swimmers through my translator about the Taliban’s notions about body image, several made a joke of the question, claiming that the old regime was made up of gay men––Kandahar “playboys” as they called them––who loved to see naked men.Yet, even as Afghan men joked about the Taliban being gay, they did not seem terribly put off by the subject of homosexuality.
In front of a mosque, I came across a group of construction workers on break, one in traditional clothing, which made for an ideal picture. His friends joined in as I photographed and one very handsome worker essentially took over the shoot. In any Western country, he’d have been a model. Perhaps 20 men in all gathered and quickly realized I was gay, based on my interest in the handsomest man. It proved to be no problem at all; some of the older men pushed us together, asking, “You like homosex?” They were so open, I was the one who was shocked. As I spoke to Mohammed about my hopes to visit Kandahar, he warned me that a foreigner faced the risk of assault for prying into local life there.
Add to that the choice between the $900 cost of the 30-minute flight from Kabul––more than my freelance budget allowed––or a bus ride along a road where workers were killed just before my visit, and I reluctantly decided to forgo the trip.
My most interesting peek into gay life happened much the way that it would in the West. On the street, a handsome young man held my stare, throwing glances back as he passed. He was a 21-year-old English teacher who I will call Munir, to protect his privacy. Half an hour flew by as we conversed, with men in uniform and women in burqas parading by. Munir wore a neat, though dusty black suit.
In spite of its post-war ruin, Kabul is a cosmopolitan city and Munir tried hard to maintain decorum, even a sense of style. Sex had really not been on my mind when I embarked for Afghanistan, but I was attracted to Munir. His response to my interest struck me as very sophisticated. “I knew what you wanted when you told me I was attractive. I am from Kabul, I know these things,” he said, before adding that at 35 I was too old for him, Afghanistan being a society where few men live through their 40s. He suggested that I meet his 26-year-old friend, who I’ll call Syed, who already had a 35-year-old boyfriend.“This is Kabul,” Munir said in an urbane manner. “Anything can be arranged.”
I returned to my hotel, the Mustafa, full of journalists and odd characters, to prepare for a visit to Munir’s home. The owner Wais, an Afghan American from New Jersey now back in his homeland, knew I was investigating Kabul’s gay side, but I was not out to his staff. I told them simply that I was doing interviews. Abadullah, the protective assistant manager, always insisted on knowing my whereabouts and expressed fears I would run across Al-Qaeda insurgents. When it was time for me to head to Munir’s, Abadullah told me my trip was not a good idea, but then gave instructions to a cabdriver. Abdullah’s warnings rang louder in my head the further the driver went.
Munir said he was only five minutes from my hotel, but the ride seemed to last forever. We were slipping from the Kabul I recognized into places where electricity no longer worked. The crowded streets of Kabul gave way to suburbia, then patches of nothing interspersed with little low-rise communities. I called Munir on my rented mobile, but he sounded drunk, and I could hear people laughing in the background. He’d invited friends to meet me, which made me wary. When we arrived, Munir was on the street with a few friends, including Syed, who was bearded and traditionally clothed. Munir led us up the street to what he called his “special room for men.”
A red light shone from the house’s second floor window. Had I happened on a gay brothel? There were eight men, most in their 20s and 30s, sprawled on cushions. Self consciously, I sat under a large window. Through a wall, I could hear women in the house, but I never saw them. I felt on display with so many men around me. Soon, more entered. If I were here to meet Syed, who were they?
The conversation was stilted, and perhaps they needed to be put at ease as much as I did. Munir at times translated as I asked about life under the Taliban. This broke the tension, and several men brought out photo albums.The men who had gathered together were a masculine bunch. Munir’s brother, who I’ll call Abdul, was a military martial arts teacher, Syed an auto mechanic, and several were bodybuilders. Virtually all of them had fought against the Taliban.
They proudly showed me photos from the army, including one showing Abdul parachuting out of a helicopter. Each man waited expectantly as they showed me pictures, searching intensely for my reaction. It was as if each wanted to prove his bravery, and with each photo, I felt as if I were being wooed. Courage against the Taliban seemed to be their erotic calling card.
They were also clearly interested in talking about sex. One young man asked about English slang words, and offered the tip that the Afghan word “milk” also means masturbation. He then talked about prostitutes, mentioning a Chinese restaurant that fronts for a brothel, clueing me in to the open secret that Kabul is rampant with prostitution, tailored to the needs of foreign workers. This man was 20, married with children.
I asked him how in a traditionally Islamic country he knew such things. He responded by challenging me to tell him about my wife or girlfriend. Finally, the young man said, “When we meet a man who does not have a wife, and does not have a girlfriend, we call him a sissy. What is another word for that in English?” One of the men, I’ll call Ali, a brutally handsome man with wildly wavy hair, then put his arm around me and nudged closer. He played with the muscles on my arms, comparing them to his own, his other hand rubbing his crotch.That was when the 20-year-old man simply blurted out, “Munir said you like to do homosexual things.” I refused to answer.
I felt vulnerable, even if the mood was jovial. I asked once again how they could be open about such things in Afghanistan when it seemed so conservative, at least to outsiders. One young man chimed in, “Not under the Taliban, but Afghanistan is a democracy now, we can talk about anything we want.” I couldn’t figure out where all this talking was leading, and worried that maybe my curiosity, a travel writer’s virtue, had finally gotten the best of me. We danced around topics until I understood that nobody meant me any harm.
Several men insisted I sleep there, Munir’s brother being the most persistent, letting me know how happy he would be if I lay beside him. “If you stay here, you are sure to have a ball,” he said. Still, I decided I should go. Munir and Abdul drove me back into town.
As we proceeded through the darkness, Abdul said his brother was an Al-Qaeda member. Afghans commonly say this as a joke, but alone with the two men, I worried until central Kabul came into view. Two days later, confident that my doubts during my first visit were merely the jitters, I returned to Munir’s house to a smaller gathering––just him, his brother Abdul, Ali, Syed, and a fifth man.
The men had planned a massage party, with Ali and Abdul vying for me. Munir continually dared me to kiss his brother, but each time Abdul pulled away at the last minute, laughing. To make me look Afghan, they put a wrap on my head and we all danced. They wanted us to dance with their guns, but in spite of what interesting photos that would have produced, I declined.The neighborhood was full of parties that day, so we wandered music-filled streets, and I was welcomed by several families they introduced me to.
As the night progressed, I was comfortable enough to stay over, and Ali and I slept in each other’s arms, after caressing each other for hours. I don’t think I’ll forget those nights in Munir’s house, but it provided I think only a hint at what homosocial and homosexual behavior means in Afghanistan. Afghan men have lived through hardship, killed for their country to free it from the Taliban, and treat guns like fashion accessories, but strict Islamic rule means they’ve probably never seen a woman naked.
Homosexual behavior might simply be a replacement for physical intimacy they can not get otherwise in their lives––a workaround. Still, I seemed to have encountered a society that accepts affection between men as a wonderful thing. I am eager for my return to the country, and my chance to experience Kandahar too. I can only wonder for now what I’ll find.
Written by: Ben Peck
Monday, 24 August 2009
With thanks: International Marxist Website
In the early hours of August 24 seventy years ago Germany and Soviet Russia signed a “non-aggression pact”, which divided the states of Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet “spheres of influence”, effectively slicing Poland into two halves. Ben Peck looks back at what happened and explains why such an incredible event could take place – and the price that was paid.
The Stalin-Hitler pact has gone down in history as a mark of the absolute cynicism of the bureaucracy. It was a treacherous agreement that involved the occupation and division of Poland, half to Stalinist Russia and half to Hitler’s Germany. Such a move was described by the Stalinists as “defensive”. The Pact did not prevent war between Germany and Russia, but certainly helped Hitler in his war aims. It caused confusion and demoralisation amongst honest communists around the world, who for years had been denouncing Hitler as the foremost enemy of the labour movement and a threat to world peace.
Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov signs the pact. German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Josef Stalin stand behind him.Unlike Stalin, who sought all kinds of diplomatic deals with the imperialist powers in accordance with the theory of ‘socialism in one country’, and cynically sacrificed the revolution in the west, for Lenin and the Bolsheviks the guiding principle was the promotion of the world socialist revolution. This was a principle based on very concrete considerations. For a backward country like Russia, encircled by the imperialist powers, the spreading of the revolution internationally was the key to its survival and development toward world socialism.
When out of necessity Lenin and Trotsky signed the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty in 1918 it meant a strengthening of German imperialism, allowing them to take the Ukraine. The idea of a workers state dealing with capitalist nations is not precluded by socialists – each case must be weighed and considered as to how it advances the cause of the workers on an international scale. The Brest-Litovsk treaty of 1918 was forced upon the Soviet republic by Germany as its very survival was at stake. However Lenin and Trotsky saw such diplomatic manoeuvres as secondary to the only real saviour – the spreading of the revolution itself, starting with Germany.
The signing of the Stalin-Hitler pact must be seen in a different light. It marked a further break with the traditions of Bolshevism and the foreign policy of Lenin and Trotsky. As Trotsky said at the time, it was an “extra gauge with which to measure the degree of degeneration of the bureaucracy, and its contempt for the international working class, including the Comintern.”
Clearly, the rise of Fascism in Germany had had a devastating impact on the working class internationally. The mightiest and best organised labour movement in the world had allowed Fascism to triumph, as Hitler boasted, ‘without breaking a window.’ The reason for this catastrophe was the insane actions of the Stalinist Communist Parties.
By 1927 Trotsky and the Left opposition were being expelled from the Communist parties and its supporters were being hounded by the Stalinists. In face of the menace of Fascism, they raised the need for a United Front in Germany of socialist and communists. The Stalinists in Russia, having leant on the Right to defeat the Left Opposition, now proceeded to crush Bukharin and the enriched peasantry he represented. This was reflected by the ultra-left turn in the Communist International in 1928. This meant denouncing every group that was not the Communist Party as a variant of Fascism: “social-fascists”, “liberal-fascists”, and worst of all, the “Trotsky-fascists.” Such nonsense simply demoralised the workers and played into the hands of Hitler’s gangs.
The utter bankruptcy of the leaders of the German CP was revealed when Hitler was made Chancellor. They dismissed it with the declaration: “first Hitler, then our turn”! The Nazis divided and paralysed the German working class, which finally led not only to the arrest and persecution of the Jews, but also the liquidation of communist and socialist parties and all independent workers’ organisations. After this disaster, which did not even cause a ripple in the Communist Parties, Trotsky realised that the Communist International was finished and could no longer be a tool that could be used to further the cause of the international working class. A new international was needed.
German foreign minister Ribbentrop and Stalin at the signing of the Pact. Photo by Deutsches Bundesarchiv.At this point it is questionable whether the Stalinist bureaucracy was actively seeking to sabotage the workers’ movement as they later did in Spain in 1936, where it was clearly acting as a conscious and self-interested caste out to preserve its own position. The Spanish Stalinists acted on a line dictated from Moscow that demanded the sabotage of the revolution and the concentration of all effort on the civil war. The Stalinists were clear: “At present nothing matters except winning the war; without victory in the war all else is meaningless. Therefore this is not the moment to talk of pressing forward with the revolution… At this stage we are not fighting for the dictatorship of the proletariat, we are fighting for parliamentary democracy. Whoever tries to turn the civil war into a socialist revolution is playing into the hands of the fascists and is in effect, if not in intention, a traitor.”
This policy stemmed from their new policy of Popular Frontism, adopted in 1935 which represented a 180 degree turn. Rather than the United Front of worker organisations, the new Popular Front policy sought the unity of communists with socialists, liberals and “progressive”, “anti-fascist” capitalists. From mad ultra-leftism they swung to desperate opportunism. They abandoned all principles in order to ingratiate themselves with every “progressive” anti-fascist possible. It therefore meant the abandonment of any independent action of the working class – the only way to defeat Fascism.
At the level of international diplomacy Stalin sought to prove to the capitalist democracies that he was a reliable ally by selling out the Spanish revolution. In 1936 Stalin publicly announced that the USSR never had any such intentions of promoting world revolution, and that any such misconception was the result of a ‘tragicomic’ misunderstanding.
At this point the persecution of all opposition and political dissent inside the USSR reached fever pitch. The Purge Trials of 1936-38 drew a “river of blood” between the regimes of Lenin and Stalin. From August 1936 the world-wide Stalinist press was publishing on a daily basis resolutions from “workers meetings” speaking of the defendants as “Trotskyist terrorists” conducting their activities in league with the Gestapo!
Of the members of the Central Committee who met at the 17th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1934, the overwhelming majority had been shot or disappeared by 1938. The Purges extended far and wide. Those shot included Bukharin, Kamenev and Zinoviev, members of the Politburo under Lenin. The Red Army was purged with leading military figures murdered such as Tukhachevsky, a military genius and hero of the Civil War. In total 90% of generals, 80% of colonels, and 35,000 officers were liquidated by Stalin. The Red Army was decapitated. This fact was well noted by Hitler, particularly after the Soviets‘disastrous campaign in Finland in 1939, which played a part in his calculation to attack Russia in 1941.
Last page of the Additional Secret ProtocolLenin was fond of quoting the Prussian military theorist Clausewitz when he said that “war is the continuation of politics by other means.” The one-sided Civil War conducted against those genuine communists who remained in the Soviet Union marked the full emergence of a conscious and self-aware bureaucracy. The possible success of the Spanish revolution would have rejuvenated the aspirations of the Russian workers and undermined the stranglehold of the bureaucracy. It was no coincidence that the Moscow Trials took place at this time. If Stalin had not moved to suppress the Russian workers in blood, he would have been removed.
War was coming. The western “democracies” were not keen on a deal with Stalin. Stalin, the pragmatist, therefore sought a deal with Hitler. This was the solution, or so he thought. After the British handed Hitler Czechoslovakia on a plate, Stalin urgently needed an agreement with Hitler – whatever the cost. Within a week, the Stalin-Hitler Pact was signed. Even the pliable leaderships of the Comintern were taken by surprise. In Britain, the general secretary of the CP, Harry Pollitt, did not jump fast enough and within a few days had fallen into disgrace and was removed on Moscow’s orders.
The pact provided the Nazis with raw materials which funded the Nazi war machine in Europe, later to be turned against the USSR itself. By 1940 Russia supplied Germany with 900,000 tons of mineral oil, 100 tons of scrap iron, 500,000 tons of iron ore along with large amounts of other minerals. Soviet diplomats grovelled before the Führer in order to ingratiate themselves. In his cynical fashion, Stalin expelled each ambassador from the territories of the USSR as their countries were occupied by the Nazis armies.
In June 1941, to Stalin’s complete surprise, Hitler invaded Russia, meeting little resistance on the way. Despite the obvious signs and clear warnings, the USSR was totally unprepared and suffered heavy losses. Stalin, on hearing the news, disappeared for more than a week, declaring “All that Lenin built is lost.”
Eventually regaining his nerve, resistance was organised. The Nazi attack on the USSR delighted the imperialists who hoped that the fight on the Eastern front would mutually exhaust both sides, after which they could move in and mop up. But they had miscalculated. They had not counted on the planned economy, which, despite the waste and mismanagement of the bureaucracy, managed to increase production and shoulder the burden of the war during its darkest days. The superiority of the plan, combined with the Russian masses hatred of Hitlerism, provided the Soviet Union with the invincible fire-power needed to defeat the Nazi armies, eventually throwing them back to Berlin.
The Second World War reduced itself in essence to a struggle between the USSR and Germany, with the Allies as bystanders. In 1943, Stalin wound up the Communist International as a sop to the imperialists, but they turned deaf ears to Russia’s pleas for a Second Front. By 1945, the Red Army had shattered the Nazi war machine and defeated Hitler. This strengthened Stalinism for a whole period.
However, as Trotsky had warned, inherent within the ruling bureaucracy was a desire to restore capitalism in order to pass on their privileges to their offspring. It took 50 years for this prognosis to play out. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and the leading bureaucrats, such as Yeltsin, embraced capitalism. The Stalinists, despite all the sacrifices of the Russian masses, had become the grave-diggers of the Russian Revolution