Moscow communists: Seven theses about the recent protests

By Ilya Znamensky and Ivan Soloviev
United Communist Party, Moscow City Organization

Navalny has been imprisoned, further mass rallies are not yet expected until the spring, and it\’s time to sum up the results and talk about the prospects of the left movement.

The authorities bet on repression

The authorities bet on a violent confrontation. This is not a ′′Medvedev thaw′′ — permitted marches will not be allowed now. Screws are twisted to the maximum, the government does not intend to negotiate even with any moderate opposition forces. Thousands of detainees, exorbitant levels of police violence, checkpoints on the streets, shutdowns, arrests of participants continue through video cameras… This is the new reality in which we now live and act.

The grapes of wrath are overdue

The recent rallies have shown the extremely high potential for protest. Contrary to the statements of the propagandists, the average age of the participants was about 30. And no wonder. The prolonged decline in living standards, rising inequality, pension reform, constitutional reform, and social crisis during a pandemic have politicized and radicalized many people who had not participated in politics before that. Some have brushes made of gold, while others have horseradish without salt. This, not the person of Navalny, served as a catalyst, although our ideological opponents from the liberal camp are rushing to notify us otherwise. It\’s too early to talk about a revolutionary situation, but there\’s definitely a trend.

Photo: United Communist Party

Liberals’ main mistake is the personalization of protest

As it was said, most protesters took to the streets not out of great love for Navalny, but simply because they were fed up. But the liberals who monopolize the protests speak only about rallies “in support of Navalny” in unison with the authorities. Almost immediately it became clear that this artificial narrowing of the agenda negatively affected the turnout. The rallies on Jan. 31 looked much more modest than just a week before, on Jan. 23. Both the number and geographical scope of the actions have clearly decreased, and only the OMON riot police tried to brighten up this dynamic with even brutal violence and even more detentions.

Social demands are needed

Only the proclamation of social demands can attract forces to expand the social base of protest, attract new segments of the people. The liberals obviously couldn\’t do this, so they chose to back down, sacrificing the aspirations of those who believed them, for the sake of preserving their own monopoly. The only ones who can take this step are the left. But to do this, they need to mobilize themselves and rethink their tactics.

‘If there’s a war tomorrow’

The marches revealed the unpreparedness of left-wing and communist organizations to quickly reorient and work in a rapidly changing environment. Not all, but many. It would seem that, while our own capacity for protest mobilization is frankly inferior to the liberals, it is a sin not to take advantage of the situation to carry our propaganda to the masses. Moreover, many activists are enthusiastic to work, if not yet experienced in working in the streets. But alas. Objectively, we have some things to work on. Many on the left, if they read Lenin, do so at random, that is, without understanding anything. Part of them took the position of the security forces. Yes, you can argue about the intricacies of tactics. Yes, there is no need to idealize those who came out and it is necessary to talk about the misconceptions and prejudices of people who came to the square. But in general, to not in ANY way try to use the situation for our purposes and instead stay in our enticing little circles chattering about “the correct way to make revolution” is the path to the graveyard of history. For we all know perfectly well who it will be, ′′if not us.”

We work ‘long-term’

The other extreme was the desire to run ahead of the locomotive: to the barricades and that\’s all. Don’t be under any illusions. First of all, we have little strength and resources to challenge the liberals on equal terms for leadership of the movement. For now. And it definitely won\’t increase if all of us are jailed before the real events begin.

The crisis and protests will be protracted: the main task now is to preserve and build up our own forces, carry out propaganda, campaign among new people, train the cadres, work out the coherence of actions, and most importantly — to introduce concrete social slogans to the masses.

We have time to prepare

The liberals quickly ran out of steam after an impressive start and took a break, unable to expand the social base. The bet on a “war on attrition” — exhausting the security forces and mobilizing more and more masses, coordinating all this through the Internet — did not play out. Whether this was indeed a rehearsal, or the plan failed because too many coordinators were arrested, the liberals chose to postpone the main offensive until spring-summer, timed to the election campaign and violations of it. However, as the liberals themselves wrote, the parliamentary opposition parties will now be able to derive the main benefit from these events in protest votes in the State Duma elections this fall. In any case, we have time to prepare and work out the bugs. Whether we can use it — time will tell.

Translated by Greg Butterfield

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