goran markovic: twenty years after the wall fell

The second in a series of interviews with communists from the former Eastern Bloc on the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

gapswall

Can you briefly introduce yourself and your organisation?

My name is Goran Markovic and I come from Bosnia and Herzegovina. I am one of the co-editors of the socialist/Marxist regional magazine ‘The New Flame’ (Novi Plamen) which is published in the Croatian capital Zagreb. I am also the president of the Workers’ Communist Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Novi Plamen is a magazine which deals very much with the development of workers’ and leftist movements in former Yugoslav republics and worldwide and carries analyzes, mainly from a Marxist viewpoint, of current economic and political events in former Yugoslavia and worldwide. The Workers’ Communist Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a party established in the tradition of workers’ self-management and self-managing socialism. Continue reading “goran markovic: twenty years after the wall fell”

russia’s marxist labour party: twenty years after the wall fell

The coming week marks twenty years since the fall of the Berlin wall. This event represented one of the high points of a great mass struggle against the tyrannical order in the Eastern Bloc, but with the defeats of movements opposed to both these statist régimes and the free market, the popular movements of 1989 are now used to prove there is no alternative to capitalism.

content_berlin_wall

In the coming week The Commune shall be presenting a series of interviews with communists from the former Eastern Bloc focussing on the struggles of the time, what system really existed in the ‘”communist” countries and what has happened to the working class over the last twenty years. In the first of these we talk to Russia’s Marxist Labour Party. Continue reading “russia’s marxist labour party: twenty years after the wall fell”

a revolution which never was: from state socialism to multinational capitalism

by Tamás Krausz

Towards a historical interpretation of the change of regimes in Eastern Europe

The title summarizes the main argument that I will develop in my presentation. Eastern European mainstream literature sacrificed the historical approach in order to shamelessly glorify the events of 1989-1991. In the theoretical, historical, economic and political literature on the history and consequences of the change of regimes, there is a fierce struggle among the different schools (labeled as discourses and narratives) for the “right” terminology. Nonetheless, the free competition of ideas seems to me illusory. The mainstream literature dismissed Marx’s theory of social formation as an unverifiable “grand narrative”, and excluded it from the set of competing paradigms. This exclusion can be closely linked with a previous development.

1989

In the 1980s, Marxist theory was equated with the legitimating ideology of the state socialist system, which was widely criticized at the time by Eastern European dissident intellectuals. After the change of regimes this criticism developed into a new legitimizing ideology, which was used to justify the rule of the new elite. The real aim of the attempts to discredit Marxist theory in general in Eastern Europe was to divert attention from the crucial issue of the transformation of property relations. The distribution of state property, which in the old times was called the property of the people, was inseparable from the issue of power relations. Therefore, the issue of the distribution of state property had a decisive role in the formation of the new nation states as well. Continue reading “a revolution which never was: from state socialism to multinational capitalism”

social ownership and workers’ self-management

A motion to the Labour Representation Committee conference proposed by The Commune

The Labour Representation Committee notes this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the fall the Berlin Wall, and the beginning of the change of regimes in the USSR and Eastern Europe in the years 1989-1991. Conference salutes the great freedom struggles by the working people, of the communist and socialist oppositionists to the dictatorships which ruled in the name of “actually existing socialism”, such as the rebellions of 1953 in Berlin, 1956 in Hungary and Poland, 1968 in Czechoslovakia, 1980-1989 in Poland, and the myriad struggles in the USSR.

Conference recognises that the legacy of the Stalinist regimes continues to hinder the struggle for a new society today. As part of developing the vision of a viable alternative to capitalism in the 21st century, our movement needs to learn the lessons of their historical failure, including of the previous state socialist conceptions. The Labour Representation Committee conference recognises that: Continue reading “social ownership and workers’ self-management”

the shipwrecked (part II): anti-fascist refugees during world war II

Knowing how to fight one enemy means knowing how to fight another: this sentiment underlay the Stalinist politburo’s attitude towards refugees from the fascist countries. Second in  a series by João Bernardo: see here for part one.

jorn-11

Why did those who fled from fascism, only to end up in the democratic countries’ prisons, not seek exile in the Soviet Union? Moreover, what happened to the people who did go to there, the country of the October revolution and the socialist fatherland? Continue reading “the shipwrecked (part II): anti-fascist refugees during world war II”

workers in uniform: class struggle and world war II

David Broder looks at the activities of the European workers’ movement in World War II and the actions of activists who tried to help  German soldiers organise on a communist basis

The last week has seen much media coverage of the seventieth anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, largely devoted to nostalgia and a hefty chunk of British (and Polish) nationalism. What is rarely commented on is the dynamics of political struggle within the countries participating in the bloodbath, and less still the activity of the workers’ movement, which did not in fact purely and simply support the Allies, and had to resist authoritarian measures imposed to varying degrees by each state enforcing wartime control measures.

While some of the struggles that took place had an immediate and significant effect on the outcome of the war, others which totally failed are equally worth remembering. While popular culture venerates Nazis-turned-good, as in the 2008 Tom Cruise film Valkyrie which depicts the 20th July 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler by aristocratic militarists who had lost faith in their Führer, less well-known are the stories of those who fought Nazism from start to finish, from a position of far less power, severe privations and heavy repression. How many people know that the first action in defiance of the Holocaust was nothing to do with the Allies (who infamously refused to bomb the train tracks to Auschwitz and did little to stop it), but a two-day general strike started by communist dockworkers and tramdrivers in response to raids of Jewish homes in Amsterdam in February 1941?

Continue reading “workers in uniform: class struggle and world war II”

saturday’s russian revolution day school in london

12-5pm, Saturday 29th August, at the Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, near Old Street, London

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In 1917 the Councils of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, soviets, took power proclaiming a workers’ and peasants’ republic in Russia. In the aftermath of the First World War revolutions established Soviet republics in Ukraine, Hungary, Bavaria and Slovakia in 1919. A new Communist International was founded to unite the international struggle to overthrow capitalism and establish a communist society. By 1921 the revolution was in retreat, a process which culminated in the triumph of counter-revolution and Stalinist totalitarianism.

The legacy of the revolutions remain with us to this day, but what does it mean for communists seeking to create a new society in the 21st century? Is it our tradition; were these revolutions a dead end never to be repeated; or does it assist us with a perspective for today? The Commune is holding a summer school to discuss these questions and others. Continue reading “saturday’s russian revolution day school in london”

nepalese maoist leader speaks in london

by David Broder

On Monday afternoon the unpretentious surroundings of Woolwich town hall played host to remarkable scenes as Nepalese Maoist leader Prachanda addressed a 400-strong meeting. Prachanda is chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which won a majority in April 2008’s parliamentary elections after a 13-year guerrilla campaign to overthrow the monarchy: he was himself the first Prime Minister of the new republic, before ceding power this May.

prachandarally

The rally was a fascinating spectacle, in particular insofar as it was marked by prolonged bouts of energetic shouting and interventions with a ‘revolutionist’ zeal rather at odds with the actions of Prachanda when in power. The music and speeches preceding Prachanda’s arrival and the fact that, following the apparently much-cherished tradition of the labour movement, the meeting began well over an hour late, only added to the sense of occasion. Continue reading “nepalese maoist leader speaks in london”

‘uncaptive minds’ day school on the russian revolution

The historical experience of the Russian Revolution and revolutions in Eastern Europe – our tradition, dead-end or a perspective for today?

In 1917 the Councils of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, soviets, took power proclaiming a workers’ and peasants’ republic in Russia.  In the aftermath of the First World War revolutions established Soviet republics in Ukraine, Hungary, Bavaria and Slovakia in 1919.  A new Communist International was founded to unite the international struggle to overthrow capitalism and establish a communist society.   By 1921 the revolution was in retreat, a process which culminated in the triumph of counter-revolution and Stalinist totalitarianism.

The legacy of the revolutions remain with us to this day, but what does it mean for communists seeking to create a new society in the 21st century? Is it our tradition;  were these revolutions a dead end never to be repeated; or does it assist us with a perspective for today?The Commune is holding a summer school to discuss these questions and others.

12-5pm, Saturday 29th August, at the Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, near Old Street, London. Continue reading “‘uncaptive minds’ day school on the russian revolution”

the commune issue 6 out now!

The sixth issue of The Commune (July 2009) is now available

The paper is published online, but you can order a printed copy or multiple papers to sell (£1 + postage for one copy, or £4 per 5 issues) by emailing uncaptiveminds@gmail.com

Click the image to see PDF, or see articles as they are posted online below.

thecommune6

editorial – migrants are at the heart of our fightback

Adam Ford reports on the Linamar fight and the state of the car industry

Joe Thorne looks at resistance to primary school cuts in London and Glasgow

Dave Spencer argues that the left has much to learn from the local work of the Northampton Save Our Services campaign

Jack Staunton writes on call centre workers’ organising initiatives

Chris Kane counters the argument that we ought to go back to the Labour Party, and stresses that communists need to organise

Kofi Kyerewaa explains the flaws of calling for the banning of the BNP

Activists participating in the occupation to protest the SOAS immigration raid draw a balance-sheet of the struggle

The story of the victimisation and planned deportation of a Chilean woman who dared to stand up to her employer Fitness First

Alice Robson reports on the campaign against cuts in English classes in Tower Hamlets

Kieran Hunter examines the hostile media and public response to June’s strike on the London Underground

David Broder looks at reactions to the mass movement in Iran against the re-election of Ahmedinejad

Alberto Durango explains how Unite have abandoned cleaner organising

Gregor Gall looks at the victory of the Lindsey oil refinery strikers and its implications for the industry

Joe Thorne looks at resistance to primary
school cuts in London and Glasgow
Dave Spencer argues that the left has much
to learn from the local work of the Northampton
Save Our Services campaign
Jack Staunton writes on call centre workers’
organising initiatives
page 3
Chris Kane counters the argument that we
ought to go back to the Labour Party, and
stresses that communists need to organise
Kofi Kyerewaa explains the flaws of calling
for the banning of the BNP
page 4
Activists participating in the occupation to
protest the SOAS immigration raid draw a
balance-sheet of the struggle
page 5
The story of the victimisation and planned
deportation of a Chilean woman who dared
to stand up to her employer Fitness First
Alice Robson reports on the campaign
against cuts in English classes in Tower
Hamlets
page 6
Kieran Hunter examines the hostile media
and public response to June’s strike on the
London Underground
page 7
Alberto Durango explains how Unite have
abandoned cleaner organising
page 8
Gregor Gall looks at the victory of the
Lindsey oil refinery strikers and its implications
for the industry

the european elections: a political analysis

by Allan Armstrong

In the absence of major class struggles in the UK, the European elections provide us with a snapshot view of the current state of politics. The following analysis looks at the election results in Europe, the UK & Ireland and, in a bit more detail, in Scotland, in order to identify some significant political trends. Continue reading “the european elections: a political analysis”

twenty years after the ‘collapse of communism’: forum this thursday

The Commune’s 25th June London forum: click here for leaflet

Polish Poster 2

Twenty years ago a revolutionary wave on the scale of 1848 and 1919 swept across Eastern Europe and the USSR. It brought down the state-socialist regimes which called themselves “communist”. Western capitalism declared the “collapse of communism” and some spoke of the “end of history” with a new era of liberal democracy. Instead the era of neo-liberal globalisation brought a new phase of war and recessions: in Eastern Europe the optimism of 1989 gave way to economic shock-therapy and widespread impoverishment, while in the former USSR the old elite has been replaced by the rule of exploitative oligarchs. Continue reading “twenty years after the ‘collapse of communism’: forum this thursday”

twenty years after the ‘collapse of communism’: june 25th forum

click here for leaflet

Twenty years ago a revolutionary wave on the scale of 1848 and 1919 swept across Eastern Europe and the USSR. It brought down the state-socialist regimes which called themselves “communist”. Western capitalism declared the “collapse of communism” and some spoke of the “end of history” with a new era of liberal democracy. Instead the era of neo-liberal globalisation brought a new phase of war and recessions: in Eastern Europe the optimism of 1989 gave way to economic shock-therapy and widespread impoverishment, while in the former USSR the old elite has been replaced by the rule of exploitative oligarchs.

What happened to the radical ideals of the freedom movements of workers and intellectuals which challenged the old regimes, which called for workers self-management, and end to all forms of oppression and alienation, which opposed the ruling bureaucracy and the restoration of capitalism? The legacy of totalitarian “communism” still hangs over us all; amidst the worse crisis of capitalism in decades there remains a real crisis of confidence in a viable alternative to this system.

Did communism really collapse? Can we develop a vision of an emancipatory communism in the 21st century? On Thursday June 25th The Commune is hosting a forum in London to address these questions. Continue reading “twenty years after the ‘collapse of communism’: june 25th forum”