Tag Archives: Socialism

50 Years Strong! Long live the PLP!

From South Carolina to the Middle East, capitalism keeps killing the working class. From bombs falling on Shia to bullets blasting their way into the back of another unarmed Black worker being fired out of the gun of a KKKop, the violence of this economic system continues to brutalize the working class.

Every bomb that falls in Syria or Iraq as the jihadist fascists fight the imperialist puppet fascists and workers keep getting slaughtered is a testament to the need for Progressive Labor Party’s egalitarian vision of Communism. 50 years ago, the international Communist movement appeared to be unstoppable. There were no suicide bombers or Jihadists in the Middle East because there was a powerful Communist movement that inspired the working class with a secular humanist vision grounded in the need to improve our society to benefit everyone. The essence though, was that that movement was flawed due to it being based on maintaining capitalist economic and social relationships.

PLP was born out of breaking with the old CP-USA. The CP was Communist in name only because they had abandoned fighting for Communism by then. By breaking with the CP, PLP was then able to continue the fight against revisionism as an integral part of the fight for Communism. Half a century later and Stalin’s warning of the dark ages of human history should the Communist Movement fail have now come true. The worst part is that these are still the good old days. Nobody has fired off the nukes yet, people are still eating, and the first world countries can still live in the bubbles of safety that come at the expense of the rest of the world’s billions of workers remaining in oppressive exploitation at the behest of profit.

China is now the most oppressive regime in the world. It is wantonly destroying the environment in our already damaged oceans by building landing strips on top of corral reefs in the South China Sea in order to impose their imperialistic aims on The Evil Empire. The US Evil Empire is worried about this strategy, as it will be able to deny them from their pivot to Asia. It looks like the US’s pivot to Asia is going as well as their last two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only war the US has been successfully winning has been the class war they are waging as pigs are free to kill and deport Black and undocumented workers, hospitals are closed and schools are being redesigned to meet the needs of the imperialists. Two years ago, many workers died in a factory fire in Bangladesh, yet the factories are still unsafe and still making vast profits for the bosses. The working class in the US and all over the world is under attack by capitalism.

Half a century ago, the world was divided into two camps, Soviet Imperialism crept under the guise of Communism – even though millions of workers were inspired by Communist ideas, The USSR used them to advance their imperialist aims. Today, the world is still divided by inter-imperialist rivalry and they have no scruples in what fascist groups they use. The Evil Empire uses Nazis in Ukraine and Jihadists in Syria, Iraq, and China to challenge Russian and Chinese imperialism.

In order for a ruling class to build imperialism abroad, they must build fascism at home even more intensely. These fascist attacks in the US use the tried and true strategy of divide and conquer in order to attack the working class as a whole. The fascist attack on education was first done in New York City, and then spread to the mostly white upstate area. It is now affecting them. The attacks on Black workers help to set up the attacks on White workers because “labor in the White skin will never be free so long as Labor in the Black skin is in chains.” Walter Lamer Scott was another victim of the racism that capitalism needs in order to maintain itself. The racist pig Michael Slager who murdered him is on charges of murder, but how many other racist murders have happened since? How many more will happen? It is not just one cop doing the killing, but the system of capitalism requiring the force and terror of the state in order to protect its profit system.

PLP has broken with the Old Communist Movement’s (OCM) focus on reformism, vanguardism, and the two stage theory. Though PLP will always fight to alleviate the burden of wage slavery and the inherent injustice under capitalism, we are clear that this is part of the uncompromising struggle for Communism. We know that capitalism can never be reformed to meet the needs of the working class just as slaves could never run the plantations in order to get rid of slavery. PLP is a mass party dedicated to relying on and trusting the working class. The OCM didn’t believe that the masses could grasp the ideas of Communism and fight for it directly. We do. We know that the working class has built this world and will rebuild a better world. We know that the working class is at its best under Communist leadership. We know that one Party dedicated to creating one world of the working class is what’s needed. Finally, PLP has negated the struggle for socialism. Socialism is just another form of capitalism. Egalitarian profit-based wage slavery can never emancipate the working class. The same ideological superstructure is necessary in order to maintain an economic base predicated upon systemic inequality.

Communism is the answer to the problems wracking the world today. From the way that homosexuals are treated all over the world, to the racist attacks happening in South Africa as one group of workers uses nationalism and racism to attack another group, to racist pigs blasting our working class brothers and sisters on the streets of the US, to fascists massacring villages and rewarding themselves with young girls as sex slaves, the world needs an answer that is based on a scientific understanding of necessity rejecting racism, sexism, and nationalism. We need to organize based on class, the relationship to production, and fight for Communism. In order to do that, we must build PLP wherever we are so that the next 50 years will see victory for the world’s working class. PLP started with less than 20 dedicated revolutionaries in a room of a seedy hotel and has now spread to over 20 countries on 4 continents. We can’t be stopped and we won’t stop until we have ultimately emancipated the working class from all forms of slavery. PLP fighting for Communism is the only hope for mankind.

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Multi-gender Unity Deals a Blow to the IS

Women guerilla fighters fighting alongside men in an example of multi-gender unity have been able to halt and give the Islamic State its first defeat. This is a blow to both sexism and fascism. Paralleling the first defeat of Napoleon at the hands of black former slaves who became adept guerilla fighters, thousands of veteran female guerilla fighters using small arms and without air support have done what none of the bosses’ forces have been able to do: they’ve halted IS’s advance. They have proven what the Communist revolutionaries in China pronounced, It is the political commitment of the soldier that brings victory, not the technology.

Much like we did during the war of US imperialist aggression in Vietnam, The Progressive Labor Party is taking a principled left position. Just as we supported and were inspired by the heroic Working class in Vietnam to struggle with and eventually defeat US imperialism, but criticized their nationalism and correctly pointed out that it would not lead to Communism, we are doing the same thing with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).

The PKK has even given up the pretense of fighting a national liberation struggle for Socialism as a means to achieving Communism, not that Socialism could anyway. They have embraced terrorist tactics and have allegedly run narcotics that enslave and destroy the lives of many workers. They have targeted the working class in Turkey and are currently negotiating the price of their exploitation with the bosses! So, even though they do make a point of fighting against patriarchy, PLP knows the answer to the national question is that all revolutionaries must fight nationalism, a rotten and divisive ideology utilized by the bosses to divide the working class and win us to an all class unity against our own interests. We know that the other side of nationalism is racism. The nationalism for a Kurdistan is racism towards the working class in Turkey. Our comrades in Israel struggle against both Israeli nationalism and Palestinian nationalism just as out friends in Pakistan struggle against nationalism and religious fundamentalism. So, even with the opportunism, revisionism, and watered down Marxism of the PKK, due to their commitment to struggling against sexism, they are still able to be the only force to go toe to toe with the extreme fascism of the Islamic Stare and win.

This struggle illustrates that even such a low level left movement as the terrorist-labeled PKK can be a burst of inspiration in this dark night of capitalism as they struggle against the downright turn to medievalism that the IS represents. Objectively, and ironically, it is better long term for revolutionaries to build PLP where they are than it is for them to go to Northern Syria to join the PKK in armed struggle against IS. They are not a revolutionary Communist organization. We applaud their victory and multi-gender unity and their example of how to defeat fascism, but we know they are running full speed down the dead end of nationalism and will eventually betray the working class. PLP is the revolutionary Communist organization that will end exploitation once and for all.

The multi-gender unity in such intense struggle against IS parallels the multi-racial unity needed to defeat the extreme racism that US capitalism needs in order to survive. Capitalism can survive any crisis except an armed working multi-racial working class directly struggling against racism. Capitalism needs racism, whether the gutter racism in Ferguson or the religious based racism of IS, it still fuels the same machine.

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Fascism Grows In The USA, Ukraine, Gaza, And All Over The World

Racism is the other side of the coin of patriotism. Patriotism and nationalism are synonymous and are the ideological foundation that motivates the working class to kill themselves in the interests of their own bosses. Whether it is small nation nationalism or big nation nationalism, borders are artificial and divide the working class. Borders do not stop capital investments from flowing; they just keep the working class producing at the lowest wages possible. When the workers try to flee the harsh economic conditions that US imperialism creates, they are then scapegoated and used to facilitate anti-immigrant racism, thereby dividing the working class and turning it against itself.

The Party recently marched and rallied against anti-immigrant racism in Murrieta, CA. Since we were not defenseless women and children nor liberal pacifists, they did not confront our militant, multi-racial, multi-gender march against the fascist organizing going on. Towns like Murrieta are important to the bosses because they allow them to whip up the kind of hysteria that their fascist designs need with more wars looming against Russia and China.

In Ukraine, hundreds of dead workers litter fields as one group of IMF/EU/US backed workers battles against Russian backed workers. The dead women, men, and children of flight MH17 and the recent victims of Israeli colonial style racism in Gaza are actually victims of capitalism. Russia is pointing out that a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter was trailing the Malaysian plane. Whether or not a Russian made BUK missile is to blame or an air-to-air R-60 is doesn’t change the fact that innocent workers have died in a war zone between rival imperialists trying to geostrategically divide the world. The working class suffering and dying in Gaza is also part of the crimes of modern day capitalism.

How many children does capitalism kill each day? How many children are right now dying of thirst in the desert because they can’t live due to the highly profitable drug wars being fought by destitute working class youth organized into gangs in places like Honduras and Mexico where their blood fuels vast profits in banks that make money from the money laundering.

Today, July 21, is also the one year anniversary of Kyam Livingston who was murdered in a Brooklyn cell. The same racism that killed her took another victim, Eric Garner, last week as a man was murdered by the police for selling loose cigarettes. The same racism that is build and fueled by deporting undocumented workers and their children is the cutting edge of fascism that is being wielded relentlessly on the black working class.

As fascism is being built in the US and around the world, it will be the working class that fights and dies for the super rich to get super richer. WWI saw the world get re-divided as a decaying empire, Britain, had to fend off its rival upstarts in Germany allied with the dying empire of the Ottoman Turks. Communist Revolution caused a quick ending to WWI and gave state power to the working class in The Soviet Union. They fought for Socialism then, and though great advances were made, Socialism will never lead to a Communist transformation of the capitalist economic system as it requires the market, retains the wage system, and does not abolish classes. The Progressive Labor Party knows that with the oncoming World War, the potential for Communist revolution grows. We need to be in it to win it, and we need all workers to join the PLP and help build it where they’re at.

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The Chickens Are Coming Home To Roost

 The Chickens have come home to roost. The chaos and killing that the that US, French, UK, and EU imperialism fomented in Syria have now created a monster that is threatening the working class in the West. With workers from a Muslim background already feeling the fascist crackdown, now the bosses have a new reason to slam down on them and increase their use of racism. Before, the UK and US turned a blind eye and covertly supported the flow of arms and transnational Jihadists into Syria to fight Assad and slaughter workers.  Now, European governments increasingly worry that citizens, often from a Muslim immigrant background, going to fight in Syria’s civil war will import Islamist militancy upon their return, because, a US citizen was a suicide bomber in Syria, and on May 24th a young man killed three people at Brussel’s Jewish Museum. His attacks were racially motivated.

 The US ruling class and their Cronies have been arming and funding the rebels against Assad for almost three years and at the loss of almost 200,000 working class lives. The bosses do not worry about spending too much of the working class in Syria’s blood. They don’t fear a Communist Revolution right now. At one time, Syria was a hotbed of revolutionary foment, but now the ISIL and other jihadist groups are committing genocide and brutally enforcing sexism.  The lack of class consciousness and a powerful international Communist movement has allowed all of the various groups to dominate the working class and spend almost as much time fighting each other as they spend fighting the butcher Assad.

 The working class does not have a dog in the fight alongside either Assad, in the camp of the Jihadists, or even with the moderate Rebel forces. None of them are fighting for Communism; none are fighting for the working class to take state power and set up a new society based on from each according to commitment and to each according to need. Only the PLP has this vision: a fight for Communism without fighting for any halfway stages like socialism, New Democracy, or State Capitalism. 

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The Guardian Guards Capitalism

The Guardian, a newspaper based in the UK, sees itself as part of the left and as socialist leaning. Though it’s the platform that launched Edward Snowden’s revelations as the extent of US fascistic spying, its terrible politics were recently on display. In one article they compared the brave Communist led International Brigades in Spain to the fascist Al Qaeda genocidal sexists in Syria and in another, they taught the lie that “capitalism isn’t working”. Social democrats and their ilk love to push this lie. The truth is that Capitalism is working just fine. It is a system based on maximizing profit. It’s doing what it’s supposed to do — make the rich rich, keep the poor poor, and drive the human race to world war and massive death and destruction.

Capitalism is an economic relationship, the base, where maximum power is given to the capitalist based on the amount of labor stolen from the worker, the dispossessed proletariat. The economic relationship of capital determines the society it warps in order to preserve its system of production. The social forces that preserve the economic base are called the superstructure. Socialism is nothing more than a choice between capitalism and capitalism.

Social democrats and their ilk want to push the lie that capitalism isn’t working now. They want us to believe that capitalism can be reformed in such a way as to meet the needs of the working class. It can’t. The more labor that the capitalists steal, the more profit they make. They give us just enough to keep us from fighting back, but, in the end, they even take the crumbs they once gave back when they’re able to. The time period discussed where capitalism had an aberration was when the international communist movement was at its most revolutionary. The working class was on the move and fighting back against the tendencies of capitalism to do nothing but steal from us then, because it had revolutionary communist leadership.

The International Brigades sacrificed their lives in order to make a better world. They fought the fascists in order to help to liberate women from a sexist culture, religious ideology, and to help overthrow a fascist coup. They sacrificed their lives in order to help the entire international working class. George Monbiot, a writer for the Guardian, compared a fascist blowing himself up to liberate other fascists from a fascist prison so that more workers could be slaughtered in a civil war that is a proxy war between imperialists using religion as a façade to the International Brigades’ volunteers. How dare this author connect an individual willing to die for Al Qaeda to the thousands who died trying to liberate women and in the struggle for an internationalist answer to the fight against racism and capitalism! Despite the political weaknesses of the Old Communist movement, the comparison is disingenuous and a massive expression of ignorance. This sick and disgusting comparison was done in order to help to build sympathy for the most virile and fascist rebels fighting the fascist government. The working class does not have a fight with any of those factions. The workers in Syria need to join The Progressive Labor Party and fight for Communism. The butcher Assad and the various groups who serve either transnational terrorists or imperialists, who are the real terrorists, will never serve the working class. The Guardian doesn’t guard the working class’ interests, only Challenge Desafio does.

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The Imperialist Dogfight Over Ukraine Has Nothing For The Working Class

The US has been the center of world reaction since it first took its baby steps into imperialism after it’s campaign of genocide against the Native Americans. The PLP is the center of world revolution as it rebuilds the forces of the working class. The US reversed or co-opted revolutions all over South America, Asia, and Pacifica, places where friends of PLP are now rebuilding a revolutionary movement to smash capitalism once and for all. Gunboat diplomacy, tyranny, and outright support for thugs and bandits who would protect their financial interests are the true history of the center of world reaction. Proving their reactionary streak is alive and well, not being satisfied with arming Jihadist sexists hell bent on genocide in Syria, now the US is supporting Nazis who toppled a UN monitored democratically elected president. Those hypocrites don’t even follow their own ideology.

The workers have nothing to gain from either set of bosses. They will get their pensions attacked and their subsidies slashed by the EU as part of an austerity program. Just as the Troika, the European Commission (EC), The European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), destroyed the lives of workers in Greece, Spain, and ravages them in Italy and Portugal, will now rip the worker’s pensions and fuel subsidies away from them as the “price of freedom”. The Orwellian conceit of “freedom is slavery”, though originally intended to attack the USSR, is clearly being illustrated in Ukraine. Russia’s fascists will no doubt take their pound of flesh from the workers to pay for their imperialist expansion, and are no alternative to the fascists in Ukraine. The US has their fascists in Ukraine locked, cocked, and ready to rock the working class out of all of their hard earned gains.


Obama is the primary puppet that pushes the reaction the US is constantly creating. It was not reactionary enough to deport millions, terror bomb children by drones, or push the racist attack on public education in the form of Race To The Top, but the first Black president has now helped to put Nazis back into power in the Ukraine. Once again, PLP’s analysis on race is proven to be correct as racist policies are advanced regardless of the race of the person advancing them. His leadership is best illustrated in how he appears to be playing checkers while Russia is playing a chess-like game of Chicken and Russian roulette.


The militaristic rhetoric that the US is pushing is a reaction to the coolheaded way the fascists in Russia are running the table in the Ukraine. Russia is challenging the US Empire and exposing their weakness. The US is moving a missile cruiser and other warships into the Black Sea now. Russia is playing the long game since they don’t have to invade the Eastern Ukraine now, though they have over 40,000 soldiers massed on the border. They know the EU and US austerity is going to cause unrest and a backlash. They can either play to win the elections or they can invade to protect Russian citizens from the Nazi-led hoards. They also have other options that will develop as the conflict unfolds.

This backlash will force the Ukraine to use their armed apparatus, the military and soldiers, as well as the Nazi paramilitary to crush the working class. So, the Ukrainian Sabre rattling rhetoric against Russia will create a military that can be used against the working class in order to ensure that the Troika gets its money. The workers have no dog in this imperialist fight, because the EU has little to offer Ukraine besides Greece style austerity cuts that would begin with an end to fuel subsidies. Those workers who sincerely believed in the lies of prosperity that fell from the bosses’ mouths are getting nothing from either the Fascists in Russia or the fascists in the EU/US/IMF alliance. There are no lesser evil bosses and there is no lesser evil; the working class can only rely upon itself organized by The PLP as the concrete vision for a society that meets our needs.

The Eastern Ukraine is where its industrial production is located along with a majority Russian-speaking population. Russia is wielding the ideological weapon of nationalism to seize control of the minds of the workers that live there as well as the factories located in a geostrategically important location.

Germany is caught in a bind as it is the de facto head of the EU and is also Russia’s largest energy trading partner. The EU is unwilling to attack Russia to the extent the US needs (see C/D). This inter-imperialist rivalry is speeding towards WWIII and only a Communist Revolution can stop it. Communists once took power in this part of the world, and, under PL’s leadership, can do so again, but this time really build a society that meets the worker’s needs. We won’t build Socialism, which is just another form of state capitalism, but an actual Communist society. The abolition of profit and the ideologies of sexism, racism, and nationalism that nurture it will end imperialist dogfights that create the lose lose conditions of Ukraine. The ending of capitalism will end imperialism.

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Castro Resigns From State Capitalist Rule as U.S. Bosses Continue With Torture, War and Exploitation

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro’s resignation as Cuba’s chief of state was no surprise. Since he fell ill in the summer of 2006, his brother Raúl has been in control. Bush, McCain, Obama, Hillary and the usual suspects have issued the usual hypocritical statements about the need for “democracy” and “human rights” in Cuba, playing to Florida’s powerful Cuban right-wing exile leadership. But none of this can hide the fact that the U.S. base in Guantánamo, Cuba, has become a synonym for torture and violations of human rights. (Of course, capitalism’s “democracy” means various sections of the ruling class control all political parties and give the working class the “choice” of which bosses’ agents will exploit them, lead them to war, abolish social services, push racism and cut wages and jobs.)

Despite all the anti-communist rhetoric by the U.S. bosses and their media, the reality is that the top Cuban leadership is already making changes that are more openly capitalist. Cuban rulers are following the Chinese or Vietnamese “road,” where the old party bureaucracy remains in political control but encourages more and more capitalist investments. Even when Fidel was in full control, there were many more imperialist investments in Cuba’s tourist and energy industries from Europe, Canada and Asia.

There even are many U.S. politicians and capitalists who want to end the embargo on Cuba — which has been a total failure — and allow U.S. companies to invest there, particularly in newly-discovered oil deposits off Cuba’s coast. Even with all that, it’s doubtful that the right-wing Cuban exiles and U.S. imperialism will again control Cuba as occurred before the 1959 revolution.

Already, the Cuban government is allowing open discussions of problems facing their economy and political life. Recently a CNN video showed young students demanding of Raúl Alarcón, a top leader, more access to foreign traveling and the internet. Even though Cuba doesn’t suffer the extreme poverty prevalent in the rest of Latin America, there’s still a lot of inequality between those who have access to foreign currencies and those who don’t.

For Cuban workers and youth, these changes from the top might offer a few consumer crumbs, but they won’t bring freedom from capitalist exploitation. Capitalism worldwide is a system in crisis, which only offers imperialist wars, mass unemployment and fascist/racist terror. A new communist movement is needed, learning from the errors and achievements from the revolution here and worldwide. That is the only road to real freedom for workers and youth.

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Revolutionary Struggle, Not Chavez’s ‘Business Socialism,’ Will Win Workers’ Power

“Without a revolutionary Party, there can be no revolution.” – V.I. Lenin

The narrow December 2 loss for the Constitutional Reform referendum in Venezuela is a clear example of the above idea. The Chávez government’s plan to impose its “21st Century Bolivarian Socialism” in a bureaucratic top-to-bottom manner suffered a major political setback even though it lost by only 50.3% to 49.7%. The right-wing anti-Chávez forces only gained some 200,000 votes over the 2006 presidential election total. In 2006, 7.3 million voted to re-elect Chávez; this time approximately 4.3 million voted for his constitutional reform.

The Empire Strikes Back

There are many reasons for this decreased support for Chávez’s program. The right-wing waged a very aggressive campaign, financed by big money from both local anti-Chávez bosses as well as from the U.S. The Washington Post (12/3) reported that the anti-Reform movement was funded in no small part by the U.S. government. The Post cited U.S. documents obtained by National Security Archive researcher Jeremy Bigwood that revealed at least $216,000 was funneled through the Office of Transition Initiatives, a secret branch of the U.S. Agency for International Development, erected in Caracas in the wake of the failed April 2002 anti-Chávez coup.

As CHALLENGE has stated many times, Chávez represents a nationalist populist trend in Latin America which, under the guise of anti-imperialism, seeks a better deal from U.S. imperialism’s rivals, like China, Russia and even India. The U.S. bosses and their local allies have been fighting for their interests, using blatant anti-communism (they claim the constitutional reform would turn Chávez into a “red dictator” who would take babies away from their parents, and other lies). Coincidentally, Chávez proved to be a better “bourgeois democrat” than the right-wing opposition in accepting the December 2 loss. If the right-wing had lost, they would have raised hell. Of course, U.S. apologists never mention the many

U.S.-backed overthrows of elected leaders in Chile, Guatemala and elsewhere.

But the biggest cause of the loss was the Chavista movement’s internal weaknesses. Firstly, it isn’t really a revolutionary movement. The Chávez government attacked workers who actually fought their bosses like at Maracay (bathroom appliances) who tried to stop the closing of their plant. Chávez’s “land reform” has been limited to some unused land, without really touching big landowners. In the last few years, some 200 farmworkers have been killed fighting these landlords.

Chávez’s “anti-imperialism” has exploited Venezuela’s new oil supplies via “mixed enterprises” incorporating big foreign oil companies. While talking about “revolution” and “socialism,” his government limited itself to a few small reforms for poor workers, including medical services using some 20,000 Cuban doctors. But meanwhile poverty overall has risen. Chavista bureaucrats and bosses have enriched themselves and big companies have increased prices, squeezing any wage hikes for workers. The government did little to counter the lack of milk and other basic staples caused by hoarding bosses.

Former guerrilla leader Douglas Bravo, a left-wing critic of Chávez, exclaimed: “How can you pretend to build a 21st century socialism enriching a bourgeoisie that came about with this government through oil income…or not taking into consideration workers, poor people in the countryside, indigenous people and giving power to agro-business and rich Chavistas?” (El Mundo, Caracas, 12/3)

That’s why so many workers and their allies abstained from voting December 2. Meanwhile, the pro-U.S. right-wing forces will try to take advantage of their victory in continuing to try to topple the Chávez government through a military coup. (General Baduel, who until recently was Chávez’s Minister of Defense, and who joined the anti-Chávez forces just before the referendum, is their man for this.)

But the right-wing is not united. It represents many different bourgeois forces, included disenchanted former Chavistas. The Chávez camp will also try to regroup, building its bureaucratic Unified Socialist Party to push for its “businessmen’s socialism,” using workers and their allies as cannon fodder.

The real missing ingredient here is a revolutionary communist (not “businessmen’s socialist”) leadership to fight for the real liberation of workers from capitalism and imperialism. This liberation won’t come through electoral referendum, but through revolutionary class struggle. This is a crucial task since the dogfight between the pro-Chávez and pro-U.S. forces will sharpen and workers will wind up losing unless they break with all forms of capitalism, whether the Chavista type or the pro-U.S. type.

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USSR, The First Workers’ State — How It Was Won, and Lost

When the Russian Revolution, and the Civil War that followed it, ended in 1921, the new workers’ state was in a state of exhaustion: largely destroyed, several million of its citizens killed, with a raging famine. Millions of homeless people wandered the land, and starvation was rampant. The worldwide typhus epidemic of 1919 had killed tens of thousands.

Seven years of war and invasion by Imperial Germany, then Poland, and all the Allied countries, including the U,S., Britain, France, and Japan, had created a culture of violence. Crime — robbery, murder, gangs — was everywhere. Armed bands from Poland raided border areas, robbed, raped, and killed, then fled back across the border. Industry and agriculture were almost at a standstill.

The Bolsheviks’ task was to build socialism/communism with the traumatized people in this devastated country. They had no blueprint, for it had never been done. No communist theorist — neither Marx and Engels, nor Lenin, nor any other — had ever thought the first workers’ state would look anything like this.

In the 1920s, the Bolsheviks debated the best course of action to build the new society. All socialists/communists believed that communism could only come in as an industrialized country. The party leadership knew that the advanced capitalist countries would attack the USSR as soon as possible. Their position — that the USSR could and must quickly industrialize by itself — won over the vast majority of rank-and-file Bolsheviks.1

Led by Stalin the mainly working-class Bolshevik Party took the country on to a great “leap into the unknown.” By the mid-30s, collectivization was almost complete, and the USSR was becoming a major industrial power. Nothing like this had ever been accomplished before in world history!

During the 1930s Oppositionist leaders conspired to overthrow Stalin and the Party leadership. Some also conspired with German and Japanese fascists. The leadership found out about these plots and tried and executed the guilty. But two successive heads of the political police were involved in these plots too. The second, Nikolai Ezhov, had his men arrest, torture, and murder hundreds of thousands of innocent Soviet citizens and Party members to cover up his own plot, and to sow dissatisfaction. This too was eventually uncovered, but not until huge damage had been done.2

Workers’ power was thought guaranteed as long as the communist party was in charge. In fact, capitalist ideas and practices turned the Bolshevik Party into its opposite. At Stalin’s death in March 1953 the communist movement appeared stronger than ever. Yet within three years the new head of the USSR, Nikita Khrushchev, had pushed the country towards capitalism, while attacking Stalin as a monstrous murderer and egomaniac. How could this happen?

All other socialists and communists along with the Soviet leadership believed there had to be an intermediate stage called “socialism” between capitalism and real communism. It would preserve many capitalist features: wage inequalities, inequalities between countryside and city; between workers and managers, the uneducated and the educated, nationalisms of various kinds, and so on. In industry, science, technology, art and literature, it meant preserving many capitalist ways of doing things, though with pro-worker reforms.

No human undertaking can ever be free of error, and the Bolsheviks made lots of mistakes. The basic reason is: They were the first! Never before had a communist movement seized and held power, then tried to build socialism/communism in any country, much less one that was unindustrialized to begin with and, moreover, hugely destroyed by World War, a Civil War, foreign invasion, epidemic and famine.

The Bolsheviks then led the Soviet Union to victory in World War II. After losing over 20 million lives and the destruction of the country’s infrastructure in the war, the USSR rebuilt in record time. The socialist USSR built nuclear weapons through the political commitment of its scientists.

The history of the USSR is an invaluable “textbook” for all workers! We must study the Soviet experience (and that of the other great 20th century communist revolution, the Chinese) to learn essential lessons about what Lenin, Stalin and the Bolsheviks did right, and what they did wrong, so we can do it right next time and win a communist world!

Stalin and the cult

A related error was the “cult of the great man,” usually called “cult of personality.” As the 1930s progressed both supporters and secret opponents of the Soviet government took every chance to praise Stalin to the skies as basically infallible. Supporters did this because of the undeniable and immense successes of collectivization and industrialization. Opponents did it to cloak their own conspiracies.

Privately as well as publicly Stalin always disapproved of this “cult.” But he did not succeed in stopping it. The “cult” made it possible for those who had been won over to the essentially capitalist line evolving within Soviet “socialism” to hide their real disagreements with the goal of communism -— a goal Stalin himself never stopped aiming for.

The “cult” also created an atmosphere of blind obedience within devoted communists and working people. If the “great man” has all the answers, why think for yourself? PLP has firmly rejected any “cults” of leaders or anybody else.


1 The plan was:
• Collectivize agriculture, so the collective farms could give up all their surplus to fund the industrialization drive;
• Build whole cities of industry over night, making the huge investments of industrializing a gigantic country within a few years instead of the decades it had taken the capitalist countries;
• Mechanize the new collective farms with tractors and farm equipment, making them even more productive;
• Build a large modern army with advanced weapons, able to defeat the armies of the capitalist countries that he knew would attack, probably soon;
• delay the attack as long as possible through diplomacy, trying to play off the capitalist countries against one another.
2 For one version of these events see Grover Furr, “Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform (two parts) at http://clogic.eserver.org/2005/2005.html

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Chávez Reform Won’t Bring Workers’ Power

CARACAS, VENEZUELA, Nov. 23 — Chanting “Educación Primero para el hijo del obrero; Educación después para el hijo del burgues” (First educate the workers’ children, and only then those of the bourgeoisie), and “Obreros y Estudiantes, Unidos en Combate” (Workers and Students, United in Struggle), tens of thousands of college, high school students and teacher from all 24 states marched to Miraflores, the presidential palace, on Nov. 21 to support President Chávez’s Constitutional Reform referendum scheduled for Dec. 2. It was the biggest youth march in recent history, countering those by right-wing students opposing Chávez’s plans.

The reform has sharpened all the contradictions here. The right-wing opposition says it will establish Chávez as a “communist dictator.” They have used the right-wing students to lead the anti-Chávez attack and are trying to provoke a military coup against him. It’s also sharpened the in-fighting among Chávez’s supporters. General Baudel, his former Defense Minister, has now joined the opposition.

But Chávez’s reform won’t bring in “communism.” It will continue Chávez’s Bolivarian Socialism — state capitalism with lots of privatization.

The U.S. and the local opposition say the reform will enable Chávez to be re-elected forever. Of course, they don’t level this criticism against Egypt’s Mubarak, Pakistan’s Musharraf, Saudi rulers or any other U.S. ally actually in power with no real mass support.

The reform, while making some nationalist changes in the army, won’t change its class nature, and it will still serve the executive power. The National Guard will become a Territorial Guard and will include “Bolivarian people’s militias,” but will still be subordinate to the Army. And the latter’s main pillars will be discipline, obedience and subordination. So basically, soldiers will be ordered to serve the ruling faction.

The reform will facilitate state expropriation of private companies for the “social interest.” But this maintains “just payments” to private owners for their holdings. Recently the government bought Verizon, paying it more than its value on the stock exchange, a good deal for the phone company. This is just a “change” from one form of capitalist property to another. It will guarantee “mixed-capital” ventures like those PDVSA (the state-owned oil company) now has with big international oil corporations — again another form of capitalism.

The reform will institute a 6-hour work-day and “popular councils,” supposedly organs of “people’s power.” But these councils will be limited to the municipal level. They’re similar to Brazilian President Lula’s ruling Labor Party (PT) “reforms.” Its “participatory budget” (as labeled in Brazil) has even been attacked by PT rank-and-filers as government control of the mass movements.

In Venezuela, these “popular councils” will have no power over national policies, the state budget, the PDVSA, the armed forces or the judicial system.

This constitutional reform fight is one about which kind of capitalism will rule Venezuela, not one about destroying capitalism and putting workers in power under a system based on workers’ needs not on profits. It also involves a section of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie wanting a bigger piece of the pie, and not giving the best part to the U.S. imperialists (as the old ruling class did).

Chávez now is making deals with international imperialist companies in China, Russia and even India instead of just with U.S.- or Spanish-owned corporations. (That’s why Spain’s King shut down Chávez during the recent Ibero-American Presidential Summit meeting in Chile). Brazil’s Senate has just approved Venezuela’s full membership in Mercosur (the Brazilian/Argentinean-controlled South American Common Market).

In 1989, Venezuela’s workers and students rebelled with a mass popular uprising (“el Caracazo”) against International Monetary Fund-imposed austerity measures. It was crushed brutally by the then social-democratic President Carlos Pérez, who sent the army to smash it with tanks, killing over 1,000 workers and youth. Afterwards, Chávez and a few other officers, fearing the masses would continue to rebel and eventually topple the whole capitalist system, led a military revolt against the old corrupt ruling class. He was jailed and then released and ran for President in 1999, winning with the support of angry workers and youth.

But revolutionary workers’ power — communism — won’t come from above, from any “savior” trying to reform capitalism, but only through organizing a mass communist-led movement. That movement must be built among the workers and students who have supported Chávez, struggling with them to shatter their illusions in “Bolivarian socialism.”

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