Ukraine 2014: Frontline of the people’s struggle

(By J. Arnoldski, Toilers’ Struggle) 

Even such a titanic and tireless revolutionary as Lenin admitted amidst the ongoing Revolution of 1905 that “In a revolutionary period it is very difficult to keep abreast of events, which provide an astonishing amount of new material for an evaluation.”1 Needless to say, in such times as now when information and news circulate at seemingly the speed of light, it remains a demanding task for communists to carry out their duty of digesting, analyzing, and acting upon the astonishing amount of evernew material for evaluation provided by turbulent, revolutionary conflagrations.

The foremost commotion which has captivated and confounded communists the world over in recent months has been the “crisis,” as it has been so mildly called, which has gripped Ukraine since November, 2013. The original Maidan protests of November, the ensuing coup in February, and the resultant, ongoing civil war and disintegration of the country have kept observers on the edges of their seats in anxious anticipation as to each new development in what has been one of the most significant and defining struggles of the early 21st century.

In the heat of organizing protests against Western aggression in Ukraine and holding educationals on the nature of the new Ukrainian government and its relationship to Western imperialism, a distinct absence of genuine analytical summation has plagued communists’ work. While communists have worked out amongst themselves the basic slogans and theses rendered necessary by each new development, as far as is known to the present author, there is yet no work in circulation which has endeavored to provide a working, yet comprehensive – to the limited extent such is possible as events progress – dialectical and historical-materialist analysis of the profound changes in Ukraine, which Marx provided so paradigmatically and crucially for the events in France in 1851 in his The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.

The following is presented as a sort of Eighteenth Brumaire for Ukraine, a history and analysis, for communists to use to inform their theory and practice. As the Ukrainian Civil War continues and the world imperialist powers escalate their aggression against Russia, and as new, more profound and world-significant questions of Marxist analysis are brought before communists by implication of the events in Ukraine, such an established chronicle and analysis will only become more relevant, necessary, and crucial.

Background to (counter) revolution

The counter-revolution which gripped Ukraine in early 2014 did not fall from nowhere out of the sky. Rather, it was the result of the arrangement and trajectory of class forces within the given material conditions of contemporary Ukraine. Reviewing and highlighting such conditions is indispensable to providing a coherent understanding and analysis of the events which, in a streak of rapid procession and ferocious tempestuousness characteristic of revolutionary times, shook the whole of Ukraine and brought the country to its present state of civil war. Continue reading

On Juche and Marxism-Leninism: A Question of Scientific Socialism and Revolutionary Praxis (Part 1)

Introduction

When the Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989 and the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, the reactionaries and bourgeois ideologues of the world celebrated the “final triumph of capitalism” and the “end of history.” Socialism was deemed a catastrophic failure, and Marxism-Leninism was declared to be outmoded, irrelevant, and a false prophecy. As the Eastern Bloc states seemed to tumble one after another in domino fashion, and as Boris Yeltsin boldly and shamelessly crowned the victory of the counter-revolution on top of a tank in Moscow, many communists found themselves speechlessly dismayed in the midst of such a breathtaking and confounding whirlwind of events. Numerous people who had, just several years before, confidently christened themselves as Marxist-Leninists, fell victim to demoralization, confusion, and capitulation. Riddled with trepidation and burdened with the immense weight of imperialism’s victory in the Cold War, the international communist movement experienced one of the deepest fractures in its history as it witnessed many of its yesterday battle-hardened soldiers become today’s disillusioned social-democrats and traitorous informants.

Some Marxist-Leninists, however, resisted the overwhelming wave of subjectivism and surrender entailed in the demise of the Soviet Union and have made an objective, dialectically-materialist assessment of the experiences of socialism in the 20th century and the global situation today, have committed themselves and their organizations to ideological rectification, and have rejuvenated their capacity and resolve in waging a principled struggle. These communists have reaffirmed the profound reality that not only does scientific socialism as an ideology still exist as long as exploited and oppressed classes do, but actually existing material manifestations of socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat still cling to life in several countries. The words of the former leader of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania, Enver Hoxha, ring clear and prescient today:

“Nevertheless, Marxism-Leninism has not disappeared, it is living and flourishing as an ideology and a reality, materialized in the socialist social system constructed according to its teachings. Exemplifying this… [are] the Marxist-Leninist parties, and those millions and millions of workers and peasants who are fighting every day for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, for democracy and national liberation. No force, no torture, no intrigue, no deception can eradicate Marxism-Leninism from the minds and hearts of men” (Enver Hoxha, Eurocommunism is Anti-Communism).

With the guns of imperialism aimed at their heads all the while, five countries nonetheless uphold the banners of socialism and incarnations of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the 21st century. The Republic of Cuba, the People’s Republic of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam are the surviving remnants of the socialist bloc which once comprised nearly a billion people of the Earth’s population. These countries, all facing unique and varying problems in their respective paths of socialist construction, are fundamentally united in their struggle to survive and build socialism in a world dominated by history’s most immense and ferocious imperialist superpower, the United States of America. These five countries serve as visible reminders of the fact that the struggle for socialism is unceasing and vibrant despite the serious setbacks resulting from the destruction of the Soviet Union, and that no single counter-revolution can eradicate Marxism-Leninism from the minds and hearts of those struggling for liberation from the rule of capital and imperialism.

Of all of these actually existing socialist countries, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea undeniably deserves special attention. The unlimited and relentless demonization of the socialist north of Korea by the imperialist media and its historians, compounded with a general lack of education among Marxist-Leninists has diverted communists’ attention from one of the most impressive, rich, and unique experiences of socialism in the history of the international communist movement, and above all one carried out in only half of a country. An embarrassing number of Marxist-Leninists are unfamiliar with the merits, successes, and challenges of socialism in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and thus are unconsciously tarnishing the scientific nature of Marxism-Leninism as an ideology of emancipation built on and derived from the lessons of concrete experiences of revolutionary transformation. If we are to be real communists worthy of the name and the rank in the army of the proletarian revolution, we must remain committed to, as Mao and the Chinese communists have said, seeking truth from facts and making practice the sole criterion of truth. Applying this to examining the DPRK, it is an unavoidable sensibility that ignoring the rich and instructive practices of socialism in Korea, and the theoretical advancements and consolidation resulting thereof, represents a harmful departure from this basic axiom of scientific socialism. Continue reading

The Unnatural Politics of Natural Disaster

On Friday, November 8, Super Typhoon Haiyan, or Yolanda, hit the Philippines with gusting blasts of 200 mph wind. Trees and buildings collapsed and were thrown about in a whirlwind, power outages broke out all over the country, and widespread flooding devastated a country which typically endures and resists up to six or seven typhoons a year. This one, however, was different, and for unnatural reasons.

Once the typhoon had already passed and moved on to hit Vietnam and Laos over the weekend, after the death toll reached, according to UN figures, approximately 4,460 people, and finally following several days of starvation, thirst, and an absence of shelter for thousands of people – only then did the Aquino regime declare a state of national calamity four days after the typhoon hit. Filipino national news media didn’t even show footage of the typhoon until 36 hours after impact. Whereas Vietnam mobilized and evacuated 600,000 people in a matter of two days, no emergency preparations were made for the Filipino people and approximately nine million people, or 10% of the Filipino population across 36 provinces have suffered drastically.

Still then, few emergency supplies came. Instead of food, water, and other relief efforts, the Filipino government deployed tanks and soldiers to set up military checkpoints around the country in tandem with the approach of six US warships, an aircraft carrier with 80 fighter jets and multiple Osprey helicopters, and up to 10,000 American troops who are to “take over responsibility for coordinating emergency transport and distribution.” Meanwhile, Aquino’s tourist officials announced that the Philippines was “still fun to visit.”

The Economist described the ensuing scene as “worse than hell.” Many of the areas that were mercilessly ravaged by the typhoon had just recently endured an earthquake, and the vast majority of the population in these areas is not only the most vulnerable but also the most neglected. The Aquino government has long since abandoned the poor peasants, farm workers, fisherfolk, and indigenous people under the pretext of fighting communism.

In fact, those areas which are controlled by the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army have been among the few in which people have received aid. Within 24 hours of the disaster, the Communist Party and New People’s Army launched a nationwide mobilization for relief operations and had begun taking surveys of the damage. Rather than focusing on relief efforts across the country, the Aquino regime has diverted its resources towards using the opportunity to recapture these “red zones” and welcome American military assistance in overthrowing the provisional revolutionary government. When the New People’s Army called for a temporary ceasefire in order to combine efforts in aiding typhoon victims, the regime responded with an offensive of more than 11,000 soldiers.

Most notably, on November 12, while Filipino and international eyes were yearning to see emergency aid efforts, the government instead sent in bulldozers, military and police guards, and business advisers to oversee the destruction of the peasants’ collective farm at Hacienda Luisita which had been established after the expropriation of the local landlord’s 4,500 hundred hectare sugar plantation. The day afterwards, 60 armed figures appeared and demolished peasant houses, crops, and buildings with government authorization. Again, this was happening after the typhoon had already wreaked havoc in the area and was the government’s “substitution” for emergency aid.

The reality at hand seems reminiscent of Haiti following its 2011 earthquake which left 300,000 people dead and around 1.5 million homeless. A year after the earthquake, actual relief efforts from non-socialist countries were pathetically disproportionate to the number of foreign soldiers and policemen who occupied the country and manipulated elections to prevent the victory of the very progressive movement which had been cruelly overthrown in a US orchestrated coups in 1991 and 2004. While traumatized and starving Haitians were desperate for help, Gap and Levi Strauss were surveying the country for cheap labor potential and the only “aid” organization receiving a million dollars a day was MINUSTAH, the UN’s political “advisory” established after the 2004 coup. Instead of raising living standards and ameliorating conditions, the “humanitarian interventionists” primarily focused their resources on imposing martial law in order to root out surviving independent movements which would dare to challenge the now favorable conditions to “foreign investment.”

Now, as the Philippines is in total chaos and the Filipino people have been reduced to beggary, US and Filipino officials are offering increased and indefinite military presence instead of civil aid. The question must be asked: which nature is really at fault for the state of the present crisis – nature, or the nature of imperialist politics?

 

Slanders in a Sentence: The Weekly Bolshevik vs. the KPRF

Note: KPRF is the transliterated acronym of Kommunisticheskaya Partiya Rossiiskoi Federatsii. KPRF and CPRF are interchangeable acronyms. 

On September 13, 2013, The Weekly Bolshevik published a short article entitled Personal Observations on the Nature and Function of the Vanguard Party. For all of its valuable theoretical points on the subject indicated in the title, the article was most notably and disappointingly tainted by an unwarranted, untenable, and ridiculous denunciation of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. In merely a sentence, the KPRF was written off as a party of “nostalgic pensioners, homophobes and, quite frankly, the worst type of tankies”, and was declared guilty of being “the worst offender” when it comes to a vanguard party being divorced from the masses and suffering from ideological disarmament. The accusations continued with the KPRF being called “an inorganic cut-and-paste of the revisionist CPSU” guilty of “the catastrophic adoption of parliamentary social democracy,” and were crowned with what was most likely intended to be an elegant and intelligent-sounding conclusion: “No matter what the intentions of the KPRF are, pensioners, tanky students and ultra-nationalists with a hammer and sickle on their lapel a revolution does not make.”

The publishing of the above-mentioned article is a disappointing blunder, a characteristically un-Marxist-Leninist move on the record of what is otherwise a decent Marxist-Leninist blog. Not only must the article be held accountable for peddling gross slanders worthy of Trotskyite blessing, but the serious theoretical failure underlying the article’s rejection of the KPRF’s political program deserves equally uncompromising treatment. Continue reading

The Arduous March of Socialism: The Private Economy in the DPRK

Introduction

On February 10, 2013, Toilers’ Struggle published an original article, Change in North Korea?, which discussed the problems facing socialism in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as presented by none other than their cheerleading proponent, The Economist.  Toilers’ Struggle wrote:

The Economist spoke of petty bourgeois traders and merchants who are increasingly emerging and profiting in the tough times facing the DPRK.  A second economy of corruption, private trading and even production, and smuggling has arisen…The fundamental problem facing the DPRK on the domestic front is resolving the issue of the second economy which, left unchecked, could potentially assume relative proportions of that of the second economy in the USSR, a development which crucially contributed to the Soviet Union’s collapse…The DPRK faces the glaring problem of dealing with the dilemma of the second economy, which is day by day engendering more potential petty bourgeois elements which oppose and undermine the regime’s socialist orientation and workers’ power.  Change may be indeed necessary and, more or less, urgent.”

At the time, Toilers’ Struggle’s knowledge of the extent of the second economy in the DPRK amounted to little more than what was revealed in the article of The Economist, and thus remarks on the matter could not exceed basic acknowledgements and general comments.  Now, however, thanks to the book by Andrei Lankov, The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia, published in April, 2013, considerably more information is available as to the scale of the private economy which has emerged in the DPRK out of the crisis of the Arduous March in the 1990’s.

The Real North Korea has proved to be a valuable read.  Andrei Lankov’s new book is a refreshing alternative to the abundance of worthless slanderous bourgeois tracts on the DPRK, as instead of peddling the same stock slanders and cliches that relentlessly demonize this small Asian country, The Real North Korea, although still fundamentally bourgeois in its outlook, does intricately explore the dynamics of the Korean Revolution, the inner workings of the regime and society in the DPRK, and the challenges and problems of life in North Korea today.  At the bare least, Lankov’s account provides the facts, statistics, and details which are entirely jettisoned in typical bourgeois literature on North Korea.

The central importance of the book, however, is that, in its detailed study of the origin, development, and dynamics of the second economy in the DPRK, The Real North Korea confirms the conviction of Toilers’ Struggle that “the fundamental problem facing the DPRK on the domestic front is resolving the issue of the second economy” and that “the DPRK faces the glaring problem of dealing with the dilemma of the second economy, which is day by day engendering more potential petty bourgeois elements which oppose and undermine the regime’s socialist orientation and workers’ power.”

Andrei Lankov’s The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia, offers a sober and realistic picture of the second economy in the DPRK today, and in turn allows for Marxist-Leninists to consider the repercussions of the second economy on socialism and the challenges and problems which confront the survival of one of the few actually existing socialist countries in the world today.

The Second Economy Arises: the Arduous March and the Crisis of the 1990’s

The second, private economy which currently operates at a considerable scale in the DPRK owes its origin to none other than the Arduous March crisis of the 1990’s. Continue reading

With Whom do Communists Stand in Syria? What is the “Solution” to the Syria Question?

The following was an e-mail response by the author of Toilers’ Struggle to some comrades’ question: “What is the solution in Syria?”  

Comrades,
Allow me to posit the following:

The question of NATO intervention in Syria and the Syrian Civil War is a fundamental question of crucial importance to the Marxist-Leninist theory, strategy, and tactics of anti-imperialist struggle in today’s world. It involves a number of important recognitions of the conditions of anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist struggle in the epoch of imperialism, such as the balance and arrangement of class forces in a given time and space, the nature of and possible alliances between certain classes oppressed by imperialism, and the objective realities of struggle in a world in which the main enemy in many circumstances is imperialism, not necessarily capital itself.

The current civil war in Syria, in which the US-NATO imperialist gang is preparing to intervene in order to bolster the losing rebels, is a brutal, merciless, and destructive war waged, not by the popular masses against the Syrian state, but by and on the initiative of the “rebels”, a motley assortment of Islamic fundamentalist groups such as Al-Qaeda who are only “united” as the (make-believe) “Free Syrian Army” by the fact that they are all provably on the US payroll. There are no evident progressive or democratic tendencies or groups among the rebels, much less a significant Syrian proletarian presence, as a large amount of the rebels have actually crossed Syrian borders from foreign countries solely for the purpose of bringing down the secular Assad government.  The only formulated demand of the Free Syrian Army thus far has been “down with Assad.” No program or alternative vision has been placed on the agenda, mainly owing to the motley composition of the rebels who are divided over commitments to their own sectarian visions of a future theocracy.  The “political representative” of the Free Syrian Army, i.e., the Syrian National Council, is based in Istanbul, Turkey (!) and is a cabinet of stooges selected by the West whose only platform, unsurprisingly, has been that the new Syria cooperate with the West, and “respect human rights, freedom of the press, political pluralism, and democracy.” Continue reading

The CPUSA and the CPI(Maoist): A Tale of Two Kinds of Marxists

On May 27th, 2013, the Communist Party USA shared on its facebook a statement by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on the May 25th ambush and murder of 28 Indian politicians by Maoist rebels.  The statement, endorsed by the CPUSA, read:

“The PolitBureau of the CPI(M) strongly condemns the barbaric attack by the Maoists…This is the latest and most shocking example of the politics of violence and terror practiced by the Maoists against all their political opponents…The CPI(M) extends its condolences to the families of all those killed. It demands a high level enquiry into the incident. It also demands firm action to be taken to stop these Maoists depredations. It calls upon all democratic forces to fight the politics of violence by the Maoists.”1

In a string of comments underneath the post, critics clearly expressed their disapproval of the CPUSA’s stance and used the opportunity to denounce the Party as “revisionist”, guilty of a “reactionary response” and “labor centrist complacency”, and some proceeded to condemn the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and defend the Maoists.  I even commented:  “It is a telling disgrace that our Party would uphold such a counter-revolutionary view on our comrades in the Global South giving the capitalist-imperialist system what it deserves. Solidarity with the Maoist revolutionary resistance!” Continue reading