-“The USSR was a fortiori doomed to downfall by Stalinism, which naturally gave birth to Gorbachev…”
“This conflicts with the facts, because the Stalin plan industrialized the USSR, defeated mighty Germany, and rose from the ashes to become the most powerful nation in the world!”
One could have the impression that the World Socialism in 21st Century international symposium, which just concluded in Beijing, was devoted to the 85th anniversary of the Great October Revolution. In fact, the organizers (Chinese Academy of Social Science and some research institutes for social science) dated it for the 16th congress of Chinese Communist Party, which is to be opened November 8. However, the issue of the Great October Revolution, the Soviet Union, and the pros and cons of Stalin could not help being one of the main subjects of the symposium.
The “instigator” of these discussions was Moscow Lomonosov University Professor Alexandr Buzgalin (whose opinion is presented first), while Sitaram Yechury from India raised an objection to him. In the discussion, some of Chinese participants took the Busgalin’s side.
I want to quote Beijing professor Chang Guanming: “While we are discarding superstitions and reviewing history, we cannot fail to find a deep connection between Stalinism and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Stalin’s rule was only an extreme form of this model, which continued to be in place after he died. Of course, it was gradually softened. Although it was not as dreadful as before, its true nature did not change fundamentally. Michail Gorbachev’s reforms actually let loose the long pent-up internal contradictions, and those contradictions finally destroyed the Stalin Model itself.”
I remember that at the symposium Reasons of the USSR Collapse and Consequences of it for Europe, which took place in Beijing a couple of years ago, I was surprised not with the simple “anti-Stalinism,” but with the anti-Soviet mood of some scientists, both the Chinese and the foreigners.
The reason for this phenomenon seems to be that the investigation of the circumstances of the collapse of the USSR and Soviet socialism is now too politized, while experts and judges of this investigation are Cold War activists who try to substantiate their rightfulness. By the way, in the Chinese People’s Republic, the fight against the USSR and the CPSU (the Communist Party of the Soviet Union) was for 25 years one of the main directions of foreign policy and ideological work (as well as the fight against Maoism in the USSR). As for the USSR (and the Stalin Model), there were many good words said about it. For example, professor Li Xinggeng from Central Translation Bureau by the Central Committee of Chinese Communist Party (CPC) stated that the achievements made in socialist development by the Soviet Union proved the superiority of socialism; the socialist system consisting of more then 10 countries that was established after WW II was a force capable of contending with the capitalist system and actively guarding world peace; achievements of the socialist countries also had a great effect on capitalism (according to the Chinese researcher, the New Deal by Franclin D. Roosevelt in 1930s was actually based on successful experiences of the Soviet Union).
Praise to the Great October Revolution and Soviet ndustrialization carried out under the direction of Stalin was also expressed by Jiang Qi, professor of East China Normal University (from Shanghai), and Zhong Yaping, professor of School of International Relations of Chinese People University.
The USSR’s critics, however, were in the majority. “At one time, especially when at war or preparing for war, the Stalin Mode was significant and helpful because it could mobilize social forces to the largest extent. Manpower, material resources, and financial ability could be mobilized in a short time to carry out any project. However, no matter how effective it was, it was undeniable that the Stalin Mode was a deformed, faulty, and unbalanced industrial structure and prevented the living standards of people from improving rapidly,” – Zhou Shangween, professor of the Center of Russian Studies, East China Normal University, said.
Chjang Gunyung from Institute of Strategic and International Research by the Party School of CPC Central Committee, Li Hoibing from Uhan University, and Chen Zhihua from Institute of World History by Academy of Social Science gave praise only to the New Economic Policy (NEP) of the Soviet Union, while deviation from NEP was considered by them to have been a mistake and the source of harm was the planned economy. Some participants of the discussion could see no bright moments in Soviet history at all. They were even inclined to make the USSR more responsible for the arms race than the US.
In general, there was more negativism towards the Soviet model at this symposium than at that one two years ago. And there are reasons for it. This can be explained with the peculiarity of this moment. The Chinese Communist Party will soon have its 16th congress, which has unusual aims. According to the experts, at this congress, the leadership of the party who have reached their age limit will be replaced. The ideological forces of the party and the state are to mobilized to secure the Deng Xiao Ping – Jiang Ze Min course directed to market reorganization of China.
While the experience of the soviet planned economy now conflicts with the model of “Chinese socialism,” which is based on a market economy (with accent on individual consumption as the mover of productive forces) and on maximum openness towards the (capitalist) world.
The ‘practical” character of some Chinese reports could be seen already from their titles: Chinization of Marxism, its Evolution and Necessary Conditions for Success; Globalization and Building China Specific Socialism; On the New Variety of the Contemporary World Socialism Movement and the Rising of socialism with Chinese Characteristics; What is the Socialism with Chinese Characteristics?—And Discuss its Historical Status in the World Socialist Movement; On Juxapozition between Three Representations and the Renaissance of Socialism in 21st Century. It should be explained that the word-combination “sange daibiao” (it is hard to translate, approximately “triple representation”), which is estimated in China as the Jiang Ze Min’s important contribution to the theory of socialism, means that Communist Party of China represents, first of all, the interests of leading productive forces; second, the culture of Chinese people; and third, the basic interests of the Chinese masses. This thesis (which does not correspond with the Mao Ze Dong’s purpose to rely on the working class and poor peasants and to stake on the class struggle) is now in the center of the ideological fight. Foreign scientists from 10 countries, attending the symposium, gave praise to the Chinese economy’s success. However, their reports were also devoted to many other subjects. Some fresh ideas expressed at the symposium make one think that Marxist thoughts not only have not died in the world as a result of last losses, but, vise versa, have now their rebirth.
Vadi Khabibi from the Marxist Study Education Center of Cambridge (USA) expressed an unexpected, but a deep, thought: the USSR’s collapse is the result of world capitalism’s crisis. According to him, now in the US, 25 percent of productive capacities do not work; while in Japan, the figure is 30 percent. In the period of 1986-1996, the number of unemployed grew twice in the world and reached nearly 1 billion. Now, at least 30 wars are being carried at our planet. Once, Khabibi supposes, destabilization in Poland was caused by capitalist countries refusal (because of an economic crisis) to import Polish steel.
“The military threat to the Soviet Union from the capitalist world,” the scientist continued, “grew bigger with the growth of capitalist problems, while the USSR’s internal troubles were multiplied because of the USSR’s efforts to strengthen its defense. “What does today’s decline of Russia say about the socialist fiasco?” – the American asks. – “On the contrary, the capitalist fiasco is obvious!”
A Chinese participant of the symposium, Lo Vandung from the Marxism Institute of Chinese Academy of Social Science, also spoke about the deepening crisis of today’s capitalism. According to him, today, the overturn of world currency is 2 trillion every 24 hours, though only 10 percent of this sum goes to trade and investments, while the rest 90 percent is to currency speculations.
Indian communist Sitaram Yenchury explained the fight that started after the Great October victory as a conflict of two different civilizations:
“The social and political emancipation gained by billions of people from capitalist and colonial oppression was the product of a “titanic clash” between imperialism and socialism during the 20th century”…
“Capitalism plunged humanity into two barbaric world wars claiming millions of lives. It produced and used nuclear weapons to demonstrate its inhuman superiority and plunged the world into a nuclear race with devastating consequences. It launched numerous wars to contain humanity’s march towards socialism, intervened in the internal affairs of independent countries, organized coups, and foisted reactionary and dictatorial regimes to suit its interests. ON the other hand, the socialist revolutions and national liberation struggles gave a richer content to human civilization”…
The same, though from a philosophical view, was said by Anatoly Shendrik from College of Arts and Social Science. In his well-reasoned report showing his convincing logic, Socialism as Civilization’s Alternative, he proved that “Faust civilization,” born by the western capitalism, had no prospects for human kind, which could be seen in the consumption fetish, society’s dehumanization, and humanity’s estrangement from spiritual values, nature, and himself. The death of Soviet socialism was estimated in this way:
“In fact, all anticommunist forces torpedoed the attempt of civilization to break through, the attempt of establishing a civilization more perfect than the Faustian civilization, which claims leadership of the world forever and aspires to solve its own problems at the expense of those who are not included in the “Golden Billion”…Socialism is the only economic system that can and must be accepted by the mankind if it wants to survive.”
So, the “phantom of communism,” which was noticed by Marx and Engels in the middle 19th century has not left the stage yet. The cause of the Great October Revolution is alive in the minds of many people and gives them hope.
Andrei Krushinsky PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
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