In a recent debate between, Lars T Lih, Paul Le Blanc, and Pham Binh(1) there is agreement that, it was not the formal aim of Lenin to proclaim the birth of the Bolshevik Party in 1912 in Prague at the conference of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Nor was it the formal aim of Lenin to create a separate Bolshevik Party. Again the debate clarified, that in 1912 there was not the birth of a party of a new type, free of opportunism, but the birth of a myth of such a party. Yet for all practical purposes, the RSDLP that emerged from Prague, in 1912, was a Bolshevik Party, in all but name.
Pietro Tresso (pseudonym, Blasco) was one of the early leaders of the Italian Communist Party. He was forced into exile by the fascist régime in 1929, and then expelled from the party on 1930 on account of his critique of the Stalinist claim that social democrats should be treated as fascists. Tresso helped create the Nuova Opposizione Italiana but also joined the Trotskyists in France, where he was exiled.
In August 1938 Tresso wrote this article in Quatrième Internationale, explaining that the Stalinists were not anti-fascists, but rather manoeuvred to curry favour with the black-shirts to suit the USSR’s diplomatic interests. The dark warnings in Tresso’s article did indeed play out. In August 1939 Stalin signed a pact with Hitler, abandoning his previous anti-fascism. In 1944, liberated from the Puy-en-Velay prison camp in German-occupied France, Tresso was himself murdered by Stalinists. Continue reading “stalinism and fascism in 1930s italy”
“Even Communist Cuba has got with the programme that we need to cut the budget deficit and actually get spending under control. We’ve got comrade Castro on the same page as the the rest of us. We’ve just got to get the Labour Party and the trade unions on to that planet at the same time.” – David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions, September 15th
This week the state-run Cuban trade union confederation announced government plans to lay off 1 million public sector employees, some 20% of the working population. Half of the cuts will be over the next six months alone, in what marks a stunning retreat for the Communist Party and a sharp attack on working-class living standards. President Raúl Castro has targeted workers’ “dependency” on the public sector: by which he means, the same bureaucratic and management apparatus which closely monitors many aspects of everyday life in the country.
In this article Eduardo Semtei, a former Venezuelan government bureaucrat, describes his impressions of ordinary Cuban citizens’ lives. Although The Commune does not share Semtei’s politics – for instance, he harshly criticises the Venezuelan government for subsidising Cuba – his comments do offer an insight into existing social relations and the warped model of “socialism” on the island. Continue reading “cuba: the island of happiness ?”
by Chris Ford
Alongside the Polish elite who died in the Smolensk air crash on 10th April was someone whose passing marks a sad moment in the history of the workers’ movement: Anna Walentynowicz.
Whilst the bourgeois media are marking her death as another opportunity to portray her life as part of the ‘fall of communism’ and a vindication of capitalism, this is not how Walentynowicz should be remembered. She was a true working class heroine: if this class fighter had lived in the West her obituaries would be pure vilification, portraying her as someone from a bygone age. Continue reading “anna walentynowicz: an inspiring class fighter”
The next Bristol reading group session will be on Sunday 25th April at 6pm in Café Kino on Ninetree Hill, Stokes Croft, Bristol.
The session will discuss the nature of the Soviet Union and the crushing of workers’ self-emancipation. Suggested background reading below. All welcome: email email@example.com for more info. Continue reading “the commune bristol reading group 25th april: the soviet union”
by Chris Ford
The national question continues to be an issue of primary importance to communists and the workers movement as a whole. The nation-state has not been transcended – transnational corporations remain tied to their home nation-states and capitalists draw on the military and political power of their states to promote their interests. Our era of global capitalism has further institutionalised the system of national oppression and inequality which is a characteristic of bourgeois society. How should we respond to this question has been a matter of controversy for generations of communists.
One mistaken response has been to consider globalisation has rendered the nation a superfluous construct; this has fuelled a trend which views struggles, such as against neo-colonialism, as a diversion from the real business of class struggle. We find this in such views as equating the unity of the UK state with the unity of the working class such as on the Scottish question. Another trend, prevalent in the UK, has come to adapt itself to the dominant nationalism of the UK state, British nationalism. This social-patriotism emerged in the working class during the growth of the British Empire in the second half of the 19th century. We find it expressed in some aspects of the anti-European Union current, represented most vocally by the Stalinist Communist Parties. Continue reading “the working class and the british nation state: a reply to the morning star”
When free expression and open organisation was allowed – before February 1922 when Lenin authorised the political police to operate within the Communist Party itself – the leftist opposition never ceased to criticise the economic system then being established. In 1920 and 1921 the Workers’ Opposition attacked the power the old management had won back in the Soviet economy and the control political organs exercised on workplace union organisation: yet this tendency was closer to the union bureaucracy than it was to the rank-and-file workers.
Within the Communist Party the rank-and-file perspective was expressed above all by the Democratic Centralist group, formed in 1919. Contrary to what one might imagine, the name of this group was not at all a reference to the Leninist form of internal party regime, bur rather the means of economic organisation. Members of this faction admitted the necessity of central planning but considered that this must be premised on democratic bases, characterised by the management of enterprises by workers’ committees: and not Lenin and Trotsky’s system of management by a technocracy of specialists, including former administrators and even the old factory owners. Continue reading “the social fabric of stalinism”