Tag Archives: ussr

A Real Man Fights Against Sexism and for Communism!

The BBC has run a story discussing about the controversy behind a sexist campaign that started in Algeria this past week. The sexist concept that “real men” take charge of what the women in their family wear – and they make sure females are covered up in public. The Facebook page “Be a man and don’t let your women out in revealing clothes” has attracted thousands of likes. On the page, men are sharing verses from the Quran and posting photos of their family members wearing conservative clothes. They argue that the Islamic hijab and other modest attire protects women from unwanted attention.

This patriarchal crap is gaining traction in North Africa and causing controversy. Progressive Labor Party is very clear that the special oppression of women is not some mystical quality inherent in men and maleness, some nebulous sin called “patriarchy”, but is a socially constructed ideology utilized by Capitalism to reinforce the specific relationship of production. Women are dually exploited since they are able to produce value with their labor and the next generation of profit generating workers with their bodies.

The miniskirt is the symbolic article of clothing being countered by the Tunisian secular activists who are calling for an “international day of the mini skirt” in a show of solidarity with Algerian women. Though The Progressive Labor Party is happy to see that there are people willing to fight against the rabid sexism at the heart of Islam, we do not agree with using sex to fight sexism. The fight against sexism requires women and men to unite against the system of exploitation in a principled struggle against the divisive role of gender. Sexism is not going to be defeated by millions of women wearing mini skirts on any particular day, neither will it be defeated by women baring their breasts at a protest. Capitalism loves to get people to think that reinforcing its divisions is a form of empowerment: racist identity politics where White people are reduced to allies that can’t ever discuss racism as well as flaunting sexuality as a way of struggling against it. Only by fighting against the system that requires, reproduces, and reinforces sexism with the anti-sexist egalitarian vision of Communism can the special oppression of women and its divisive gender roles get smashed.

The Communist-led but socialist USSR was the first state to legalize abortion and make it available to the working class. The ruling class has always had access to safe termination, but working class women have had to deal with unsafe “back alley” abortions. When the women of the rich were impregnated, they knew which doctors they could turn to and they could afford the proper medical care. The right for women to control their own bodies is an important principle in the fight for Communism. Women will not be baby factories that need to be covered up for their own protection. Women will be fully educated and fully equal to men as leaders in the Party, as workers on the job, and as a voice in the home.

Instead of Koranic sexist garbage, men and women need a real solution, Communism, to the fact that it is women who are constantly feeling the brunt of being exploited for their class and exploited because of their gender. The specific organization of the nuclear family and religion exist to force women into a place of subjugation to men in order to keep them producing the next generation of workers to put profit in the pockets of the bosses. There is no liberation in Islam. None. It is just another form of mental slavery. The Koran, Islam, and all religions will be flushed down the toilet of history when PLP rises, takes state power, and is able to organize a Communist society. We will truly liberate the working class from the brain deadening illusions of religion.

Instead of arguing that women need to be “protected from unwanted attention”, these sexist snakes should be learning to control themselves and not just see women as objects to be leered at and controlled. Who are they protecting women from – other pious Muslims? PLP will continue to organize in North Africa against these sexists. We will organize to smash gender, to fight for women to be considered just as human as males, for the socially constructed gender binary of heterosexuality to not be the only acceptable manner for people to love each other, for collective parenting that shares both child rearing and housework, and the sustained struggle to absolutely obliterate the special oppression of women with Communist Revolution.

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‘If communism was good, why was the USSR destroyed?’

SPAIN — In a meeting with friends, we took up very important topics including communism, and the capitalist crisis of overproduction, but especially the fight against revisionism (capitalist ideas disguised as communist ideas). A comrade mentioned that, “In Peru you hear communist ideas a lot in the communities (for example, in the city of Ayacucho).” She mentioned that “in years past the group Sendero Luminoso organized university students and farm workers against the exploiters.” She had been a member of the group.

But the following question arose, “Why, if communism is good, was the USSR destroyed? Is it because people can’t have higher political understanding?” I answered, “At this time, capitalism has many weapons to divide the working class and to push the lie that communism was a disaster, but that’s not true and we communists in the PLP know it. Socialism failed in the USSR, not communism.” I explained that when a group fights for reforms (like Sendero Luminoso, the FMLN, FSLN, and other revisionist groups in Latin America that fight for national liberation and socialism) they’ll never achieve communism because they keep capitalist ideas and practices. So she responded, “but then you want to tell me that in order for there to be communism, we need an armed revolution?” “Exactly,” I said.

In the study of dialectical materialism we know that the way to solve a contradiction is to intensify it. “So that water can become steam, the temperature has to rise high enough to a certain point, at which water is converted into something else –– steam,” I explained to my friends. “It’s the same with the struggle to destroy capitalism in order to build communism.”

I explained that we have to understand the law of the unity and struggle of opposites. I showed them that if we have one pencil, we can break it easily, but that if we put 20 pencils together, it’s much harder to break them. In the same way, we have to build the Party to unite the working class with communist ideas. She said I was right and that we needed to continue the discussion.

Another youth who is influenced by capitalist ideas continued to insist that communism is in the past and was simply a failure. I talked about the many good things that happened in the Soviet Union in education, health care, housing , etc. The workers lived better than they ever did under under capitalism! And they united to defeat Hitler’s fascism.

At the end, my Peruvian friend was very emotional because the discussion cleared up many questions and she wanted to keep talking. The other youth said he didn’t understand how any society could exist without money. I limited my remarks to the fact that a capitalist economy and a communist economy were completely different, opposites, and that to be able to understand this he first had to understand dialectical materialism and put it into practice. All of this was very useful, because we were able to show that we can fight for and build a communist system even though we’re contaminated with all these capitalist ideas.

Now I need more Party material to study and to distribute among friends in this part of the world. Now I see that there are many people interested in the communist ideas of the Progressive Labor Party and, in addition to the interesting articles in CHALLENGE, I need to give them material to use to study dialectical materialism. We must massively spread these ideas to establish a real communist system in which workers hold the reins of society.

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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.

Footnotes:

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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