Borotba at international conference: ‘Reclaim revolution from imperialists’

By Maxim Firsov, Union Borotba (Struggle)

Presentation given at the 8th International Symposium for Unity of the Peoples Against Imperialist Aggression, Istanbul, Turkey, April 21-22, 2017.

In my speech, I will talk about the relatively new techniques used by imperialism to retain and consolidate its domination. I will use the example of our countries of Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia.

We communists consider revolution a natural stage of development, an instrument for building a new society. But if we look at history, we can see that all the “revolutions” of the last 30 years have not led to the creation of a new society. Rather, they only perpetuate the domination of imperialism. One can, of course, say that these were not true revolutions. But we see that these events occurred with the active participation of a large number of people. As they say in such cases, broad masses of the people.

Why is this so? Why were the imperialists able to seize our instrument from us? To answer this question we must examine the changes that have occurred in the mechanisms of control over society.

In 1991, the classic division of the world ended, and the whole world became a single system. Quantitative growth reached its limits, and further expansion was possible only by going “into the depths.” This meant the following:

1. Removing barriers to the movement of capital;
2. Involving poor people in the process of capitalist consumption through loans;
3. Destroying alternative centers of accumulation;
4. Discrediting alternative ideological projects;
5. Conscious inhibition of the development of social sciences;
6. Creation of effective methods of control using technology;
7. Forming a social base for imperialism in all countries of the world, not so much through production as through consumption;
8. Reliance on the most reactionary movements and ideologies to keep the situation under control.

Each of these points requires detailed study and discussion.

Let’s see how these mechanisms work in our countries.

After the destruction of the USSR, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) financed from abroad began their work in all post-Soviet countries. On their shoulders lay the task of forming a new layer of intellectuals, activists, officials and journalists, who were to replace Soviet cadres. The money of these organizations produced textbooks, developed laws, funded art and culture. Imperialism quickly grew a servant for itself, not sparing money for this.

It is important to note that each country has its own ideological garnishes, suitable for achieving the goals in a particular country. This once again emphasizes that there are no universal “Western values.” For example, in Ukraine, the new ideologists argued that the Ukrainian nation is the oldest (4,000 years or even 10,000 years), inventing non-existent facts. This was done in order to set the Ukrainians against the Russians. In Moldova, on the contrary, it was argued that there are no Moldovans, but only Romanians, and the Moldovan language is an invention of the Bolsheviks. In Russia, the apologists of Western values ​​focused on revising history, primarily the Soviet period, with the goal of instilling a sense of guilt in people, and making it impossible to restore socialism.

The main objective of these efforts was to discredit the Soviet experience. Now we can say that as a whole this task was not solved by them. The majority of the population positively assesses the experience of the USSR. Events in the Donbass, where the people raised red flags, showed this. To solve the task of discrediting the experience of real socialism, they used and continue to use leftist people, trade unionists, and some Trotskyists. Their task is to consistently discredit the Soviet experience. They begin with Stalin, then move on to Lenin, then revising the results of the Second World War, and so on. Here, one important feature of imperialism revealed itself to us — that it successfully learned to capture the traditional mechanisms of work used by Communists.

Here is an example — “independent trade unions” such as the Confederation of Labor of Russia. It’s part of the International Trade Union Confederation, which was formed in 2006 from the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. In the charter of this organization, since the late 1940s, the fight against communism was identified as one of its goals. This trade union association regularly holds seminars for workers, in which the experience of the USSR is systematically vilified. They receive funds for such seminars from international trade union structures related to ITUC.

Thanks to such assistance, they keep the trade union organizations in Russia under control. An example of this is the trade union assessment of the situation in Ukraine, which fully coincided with the position of the international imperialist centers.

In our opinion, it is now vitally important for the imperialists to solve two problems:
To prevent the formation of centers of accumulation, in addition to the United States;
To prevent the formation of alternative models of development.

These two tasks are related to each other. And we can see the efforts to implement them using example from many countries. The imperialists now live by the principle that if any system is not under their ideological and economic hegemony, this system must be destroyed. That is why they have adopted and perfected the tool of “color revolutions.” Preparation for this was evident even in the 1990s, when a fashion for riots appeared in mass culture.

Riots do not arise spontaneously, they are managed and directed. To do this, the imperialists have everything they need:

1) A social base in the form of the so-called “middle class,” closely related to global consumer culture;
2) A network of organizations that receive money for a variety of purposes, but at the right time act in a coherent and deliberate manner;
3) Detachments of militants (we have nationalists and traditionalists of different persuasions) who, despite ideological contradictions, very quickly find a common language with Western liberals;
4) Tools to put pressure on the national bourgeoisie and officials;
5) Orchestrating media and Internet campaigns.

It is very important to emphasize that the imperialists have their supporters in all segments of the political spectrum. There are imperialist Communists, Trotskyites, anarchists, nationalists, traditionalists, Islamists and so on. Imperialism does not have ideological prejudices; everything that benefits them is supported and developed.

To operate such a system based on lies requires serious external factors that will exert pressure on society. The socialist countries were once such a factor. Then there were various “axes of evil” and “rouge countries.” In 2000, the fiend became “international terrorism.” The links between the forces supported by the imperialists and their allies (for example, Qatar) and the most notorious terrorist attacks in Europe and the USA is striking. But using the monopoly of institutional media, the ruling circles deny or ignore these facts. If you look at the news, there are some mythical “terrorists” around the world, and it’s impossible to know who these people are, what they are fighting for, what their demands are, or their ideological orientation. To ensure that such explanations do not cause rejection by the professional journalistic community, there is a constant drop in the standards of journalism and knowledge of society as a whole. The level of the world’s leading media publications is constantly decreasing, as can be seen if you compare publications in the 1970s and now.

As was already mentioned, the main players, which are now operating with the help of the imperialists, are the extreme right and traditionalists (religious or pagan radicals). Liberal public opinion easily accepts their ideology and mode of action, reflecting what is commonly said about the absence of any firm beliefs among modern “intellectuals.” They use their knowledge and their talents to justify the most monstrous atrocities of the extreme right, if these atrocities are aimed at supporting imperialist hegemony.

As Ukraine’s experience shows, the mass base of extreme right-wing movements is often representatives of the so-called “middle class.” This category has a number of distinctive features, namely:

1. With an ideology based on consumption, they are firmly connected to the interests of global imperialism;
2. Often their means of earnings are substantially limited to global structures (remote work and / or work for transnational corporations);
3. They suffer greatly from the consequences of economic crises and fear losing their standard of living;
4. They hate the working class (from which they often come) and strongly express social Darwinism;
5. They have resources and are usually united in communities, which makes them quite organized.

An example of self-organization by such people in Ukraine was the “Automaidan.” This organization united people with medium and high incomes, and their goal was to hunt for activists of the so-called Antimaidan. Often they were owners of expensive cars, who did not hide their hatred for the “Donetsk cattle,” as they called representatives of industrial regions of the south-east.

The classical definition of the petty bourgeoisie as a base of fascism finds here its direct and unequivocal confirmation.

Attempts by capitalists to preserve their domination inevitably lead them to the path of putting a brake on historical, scientific and social progress. This inhibition often takes the form of archaization.

In Ukraine, we can observe the flowering of all forms of archaism. Under the guise of “national revival,” social practices of the distant past, up to paganism, are brought to light. The national peasant shirt (embroidered blouse) has become an obligatory feature at official events, which was not so in the 1990s, nor in the USSR, nor even before the revolution.

What should communists do in this situation?

First, it is very important to restore a correct understanding of the historical moment. Over the past 20 years, the left forces have lost their vanguard positions, turning into an ideological rump of parliamentary liberals. In order not to fall out of the mainstream, the language of the left was significantly changed. It began in the middle of the 20th century, when Western intellectuals of left-wing views chaired departments in leading universities, and began to speak in Aesopian language so that their careers would not suffer. Further, this tendency was picked up by reformist parties and the left press. As a result, we lost our language. We must learn how to call things by their proper names. Imperialism should be called imperialism, fascism — fascism, armed struggle — armed struggle. A correct understanding of the situation and the resulting agitation and propaganda will enable us to solve the second problem.

The second task is to prepare the masses for future events. From the example of Ukraine, we clearly see that the situation can change in a couple of months and civil war can erupt in a peaceful country. Neither politicians, nor the people, nor activists of communist organizations were ready for this. Only the organizers of the process there and abroad, who unleashed this war, were ready.

There is no doubt that the wars and “revolutions” in both the post-Soviet countries and in other parts of the world will break out again. We must learn from past experience and be prepared for this. Only in this way can we restore the Revolution to ourselves. Now Belarus and Russia are on the agenda of the imperialist centers, and Kazakhstan is next in line.

And the third task is the strengthening of international solidarity and the sharing of experiences. Events in Ukraine have shown that joint actions of comrades from different countries are possible in both peaceful and armed forms. It is necessary to strengthen these contacts and increase cooperation. Since 2014 we have met and established strong ties with a large number of communist organizations and individual activists, contacts which had not been accomplished over 20 years of previous work. Now we have not only political but also military cadres who have the experience of struggle in conditions of worsening crisis and the outbreak of civil war.

We express our thanks to the organizers of the anti-imperialist congress for the opportunity to meet and discuss this experience.

Translated by Greg Butterfield

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