Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Breaking the Chains of Revisionism

In 1997, on the 20th anniversary year of the founding of the New Communist Party of Britain, New Worker Editor Ann Rogers interviewed Eric Trevett, former general secretary and current president of the NCP.

ANN ROGERS: Why was the NCP formed in 1977 -- what were the circumstances that led to its formation?

ERIC TREVETT: The New Communist Party was formed to re-equip the working class and labour movement with a revolutionary party based unequivocally on the principles of Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism.
Under the leadership of John Gollan, the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) abandoned those principles. It embarked on a course which inevitably led to the liquidation of the CPGB itself, as it betrayed its trust ever more blatently.
In forming the NCP we rejected the CPGB's programme The British Road To Socialism. And what came to be called "Eurocommunism" -- a form of revisionism that had infected a number of communist parties. This was characterised by Eurocentrism, narrow nationalism and denied the leading role of the working class and the class struggle itself.
Although we did not realise it at the time, "Euro-communism" had the tacit support of counter revolutionary elements that had actually penetrated the leading bodies df the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).
Prior to 1977 in Britain, a 12 year inner party struggle to defeat revisionism in the CPGB had failed. The leadership was effectively purged of sound elements. Rajani Palme Dutt was manoeuvred off the CPGB's executive committee, and the crucial post of international secretary was secured for the revisionist and anti-Soviet leadership.
That became clear In 1968 when the CPGB opposed the Soviet intervention In Czechoslovakia. But that intervention enabled the working class in Czechoslovakia to avert counter revolution and maintained globally a cohesive socialist camp that ensured world peace and helped progressive humanity everywhere as it confronted imperialism.
We rejected The British Road to Socialism because it was totally flawed. It bred illusions that there could be a constitutional, parliamentary road to socialism.
But our party reaffirmed the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. Revolution, in which the capitalist state is smashed and a working class state is established, is the fundamental pre-requisite to building a socialist society.
We have always stressed that the working class has to take state power and retain its hold throughout the period of socialism. We never endorsed the CPSU's declaration by Leonid Brezhnev that under socialism the working class state machine gives way to being the state of the whole people.
Socialism is a political and economic system in its own right. It is also a transitional period between capitalism and communism, between class divided and classless society. The socialist revolution, in one or several countries, does not signify the end of the class struggle. Such revolutions positively change the national and international balance of forces in favour of the working class.
But following such revolutions, and certainly while imperialists command great economic, political and military power and ideological influence, the class struggle eventually intensifies and takes on a multitude of forms.
In those circumstances, in the countries that have experienced socialist revolutions, throughout the period of global transition to communism, the working class has to retain state power. And, at the same time, the revolutionary party of the working class has to be consistent and strict in maintaining discipline.
The collective will of the party is expressed through its congresses and this arises from its under standing of the laws of economic and social development. Its integral relationship with the working class thus enables the party to fulfil the aspirations of the working class it is duty bound to serve.
Our party operates under a major capitalist power and oppressor where there is wide acceptance of class collaboration in the labour movement. It operates in conditions where all the main political parties seek to perpetuate capitalism, share common policies regarding both the upgrading of nuclear weapons and in many areas of foreign policy.
In spite of the imposition of a massive array of anti-trade union legislation, many trade union and labour movement leaders spout their commitment to partnership with the exploiters.
Surely it is evident that a strong ideological position is essential if the party is to survive and win the allegiance of the labour movement as it serves the interests of the working class.

AR: Building a new party and launching a weekly newspaper must have been very hard. What are your memories of that time?

ET: I have never regretted being involved in the struggle for Marxist-leninist principles that led to the decision to form the New Communist Party in July 1977. And it was only when the party was established did we get down to working out and adopting fully comprehensive policies and strategies.
For instance, inside the CPGB we had either accepted or not made an issue of the party's position on Ireland, or a number of questions relating to political economy and working class unity. To be frank, the NCP's inaugural congress, held a few months after our formation, was a bit of a shambles. It reflected divergent opinions and demonstrated a shallow analysis of many issues.
We also had personnel problems. On the eve of launching our newspaper, the comrade who was to be editor got cold feet and resigned.
Nevertheless, the paper was launched under the editorship of a comrade with no journalistic experience. He set a high standard which has been enhanced by the four editors who succeeded him.
Of course, the quality of the New Worker is due to the party's strong ideological position, the dedication of the team of comrades responsible for producing the paper and the camaraderie in the party as a whole arising from its unity.
So the development of our party has been rewarding even though it has also given us more than a few headaches. We are strong in upholding vital principles and that is as it should be. We are also very clear that there should be no compromise on questions of ideology. This is of crucial importance.

AR: Unlike many larger and older parties, the NCP has survived the effects of the counter-revolution in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe. Does this surprise you?

ET: Not altogether. Our policy was formed out of the struggle against revisionism. The parties that succumbed to counter revolution and liquidation had already, and at leadership level, been undermined by revisionist and counter revolutionary elements. Those revisionist elements had been gathering strength nationally and internationally over a period of decades.
From time to time our party expelled revisionist elements we had good reason to suspect were working in the service of the enemy and striving to destroy our party. Many of the parties that succumbed to liquidation pressures had weakened themselves ideologically.
Some of them consciously beguiled their members by presenting revisionist ideas and policies as "new thinking" and a creative" development of Marxism. In turn, that helped the revisionists, agents and liquidators to strengthen their position organisationally at every level of the party.
The lack of a consistent and sustained attack on "Eurocommunism" by the CPSU leadership should have alerted the sound elements in the international communist movement to the pending danger emanating from the revisionist factions in the CPSU.
Instead, the emergence of the traitor Mikhail Gorbachov's administration, with its slogans of glasnost (openess) and perestroika (new thinking), meant a counter revolutionary offensive was unleashed. It was a coordinated offensive masterminded by imperialists.
The bitter lesson of that defeat for communists, working class and progressive humanity has to be taken to heart. Revisionism, if it is not defeated and rooted out, will inevitably give rise to the eventual liquidation of the party.

AR: The working class and its organisations face many difficulties today -- what do you think is the party's task and role, and do you look forward with confidence to the future?

ET: The capitalist crisis today is profound. New technology plus intensifying competition for market share is promoting action by the employers (including state intervention) to downsize the labour force.
That tendency is being marginally offset by promoting a low wage economy, cutting the provisions of the "welfare state" and generally lowering the standard of living of the majority whilst enhancing the wealth of the few.
But these actions don't resolve the crisis, they actually exacerbate it. Moreover, job insecurity has engulfed large swathes of administrative, technical and professional workers who, up until recently, were quite satisfied with their lot under capitalism. Not only did they feel their own jobs were secure, they also felt certain that their children would be assured of a good job and a high standard of living.
They, and most others in 1997, considered the problem merely to be one of administration and Tory greed. The general election reflected a massive rejection of the Tory party which has been replaced by a Labour government under pressure from the working class, but with the clear intent of working to perpetuate capitalism and complying with the dictates of the dominant section of the capitalist class.
Hence, the crisis deepens, and experience shows that social democracy -- while to some extent mitigating sleaze and responding to working class pressure with a few concessions -- continues with the same basic policies as the previous Tory government.
Labour is seen as an alternative to a Tory government, but it cannot further the fundamental interests of the working class or take measures to resolve the crisis because it will not challenge capitalism.
The reality of capitalist crisis and its profoundly new features arising from new technology, provide an increased necessity for socialism. Social democracy and reformism is not the answer to this crisis. Marxism-Leninism, revolution and socialism is the only alternative to capitalism in crisis that is practically attainable and serve the interests of the working class.
There is no other solution that can unleash the creative energy of the working class and protect the environment. So our first job is to preach socialism as we help promote cohesive struggle around urgent, immediate demands. These range from higher wages, cuts in military spending, trade union rights, public ownership of basic services, defence of health and education, and so on. It is not easy to accomplish this, of course, but we must try and make the link between the immediate demands and the revolutionary aim of establishing working class state power.
We must also build our party. A key role in that respect must be to increase the readership of our paper the New Worker, which carries and develops communist analysis.
The way ahead is difficult and complex but it will not daunt us.
We face the future. Equipped with the revolutionary ideology and party of Marxism-Leninism, we are confident that through the struggle the working class will win its full emancipation with the triumph of socialism over the reactionary forces of capitalism and imperialism, which breed exploitation, war and poverty.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Communist Party of the Russian Federation on Georgia


Moscow, August 14, 2008

Dear comrades,

Proceeding from the practice of a constructive and mutually beneficial exchange of views on various complex issues of the present situation in the world that has been already existing in our relations, we would like to state the firsthand information on the development of the armed conflict in South Ossetia. We consider it a matter of top priority with a view that the leading American and many European TV companies have been broadcasting extremely one-sided – if not to say biased- information on the above issue during the past several days.

Firstly, a few words about the historical background of the conflict. Ossetia became part of the Russian Empire as a single province (without any division into the Northern and Southern parts) in 1774. After the disintegration of the Russian Empire in 1917 Georgia stated its claims to the territory of South Ossetia. In 1918-1920 the people of South Ossetia were subjected to the first genocide by “independent and democratic” Georgia. Then, thousands of South Ossetins were annihilated and ousted to North Ossetia by Georgian troops which, in fact, destroyed almost all the villages in South Ossetia.

In 1921 the Soviet power was constituted in South Ossetia and in 1922 the latter was annexed to Georgia as an autonomous region. The new administrative status of South Ossetia did not change the attitude of Tbilisi. Under the slogans of friendship among nations the Ossetins were forced to change family names into Georgian names. The policy pursued by the Georgian authorities led twice to the change of the Ossetian alphabet into Georgian script as well as to a stable decrease in the number of the population of South Ossetia, although, there was a growth of the population on the whole territory of the USSR.

At the end of the 80s of the 20th century Georgian national extremists launched a campaign on the destruction of the South Ossetian autonomy. All the Republican legal acts that formed the basis of the existence of the autonomy were annulled. In 1990 the Supreme Soviet of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic abrogated all the legislative acts adopted after 1921 including the document on the annexation of South Ossetia to the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, thus placing South Ossetia beyond the constitutional and legal framework of Georgia.

Discrimination and threats with respect to the Ossetins turned into an armed aggression and destruction of the people of South Ossetia in 1989-1992. As a result of the forced actions undertaken by Georgia against South Ossetia in the period from November 1989 to July 1992 (to the moment of the stationing of Russian peacekeeping forces in the zone of Georgian-Ossetian conflict) more than 3 000 Ossetins died, 300 were missing, more than 100 Ossetian villages were burnt down and more than 40 000 people became refugees in Russia.

At the time of the disintegration of the USSR the referendum in the Abkhaz and South-Ossetian autonomies of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, envisaged by the USSR Constitution still in effect to that moment, was never held. In that existing situation, on May 29, 1992, the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of South Ossetia proclaimed independence “taking into consideration the will of the people expressed during the referendum held on January 19, 1992”.

On June 24, 1992 in Sochi B. Yeltsin and E. Shevardnadze signed an Agreement on the principles of the settlement of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, under which a peacekeeping operation in South Ossetia began on July 14, 1992. Joint peacekeeping forces, including Russian, Georgian and Ossetian military units, were stationed in the zone of the conflict. The Sochi Agreement also envisaged the creation of a Joint control commission on the settlement of the conflict. During the next years the peacekeepers have successfully solved the main goal – to prevent the resumption of military activities.

Secondly, the present stage of the conflict. As you may well know, on March 4, 2008, Georgia claimed that it no longer considered the Joint control commission an effective mechanism of the settlement and came out for its replacement by a new format of “2+2+2” (the Georgian authorities and the progeorgian so called Government of D. Sanakoev + the Russian side and the Government of E. Kokoity + the OSCE and the EU). This initiative was rejected by the South Ossetian side, what made the implementation of the above proposal impossible, no matter how Russia and other European states should treat it.

During the next five months tension has been constantly growing along the division line between the main territory of Georgia and South Ossetia, primarily, in connection with the consistent concentration of Georgian military units, including the heavy military equipment (prohibited by the Sochi Agreement) along this line. Frequent provocations on reciprocal basis were an additional burden to the Joint peacekeeping forces. Repeated appeals by Russia to the Georgian leadership and our appeals to the international community to support the idea of signing a legally binding document between the sides in the conflict on the renunciation of the use of military force have, unfortunately, remained unanswered.

It is becoming clear now, why for many months M. Saakashvili has been so consistent in rejecting our insistent proposal. Quite recently – before the military activities were unleashed against South Ossetia, M. Saakashvili said that there was no sense in asking for such a document as Georgia did not use force against its people. Now we see that it does use it.

In the night of August 7-8 the Georgian military forces launched the attack. It was done despite the promises of armistice given by the President of Georgia some few hours earlier before the well planned large-scale aggression. Thus, we are talking about a deliberate fraud and forgery committed by M. Saakashvili. By his actions he has as well grossly ignored the appeal of the UN General Assembly resolution to observe “the Olympic armistice” for the period of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Peaceful villages of South Ossetia were subjected to massive attacks and bombings, the capital of South Ossetia – Tskhinvali - was completely destroyed. M. Saakashvili in his activities has stepped all the limits of the admissible, in fact, giving his blessings to the “mop up operations” against his people. Actually, we are witnessing a purposeful and treacherous genocide sanctioned by him. According to the approximate numbers of victims of the Georgian aggression there may be up to two thousands of innocent civilian population – mostly women, old people and children, primarily Russian. Georgian snipers did not allow medical services to carry out life-saving operations. The civilian population of Tskhinvali remaining still alive were forced to hide from the heavy fire of the Georgian military forces in awful conditions in the cells and basements of the demolished buildings. M. Saakashvili is responsible for the immense large-scale humanitarian catastrophe. Since the beginning of The military operation by Georgians more than 30 000 refugees fled from the Republic.

The HQ of the Joint peacekeeping forces in Tskhinvali was also attacked. According to the available information, 18 Russian peacekeepers were killed, more than 100 were wounded. Many of them were hit by bullets fired by so called peace keepers from Georgia shooting against their brother-soldiers from behind as betrayers.

As is well known, 90% of the population of South Ossetia are Russian citizens. Under the Constitution of the Russian Federation the state shall ensure the security of its citizens. Under these conditions we started an operation on compulsion to peace. Up to now, the Russian peacekeepers were stationed in Tskhinvali in full compliance with the international law and the already existing agreements. The reinforcement units sent there were aimed to protect our peacekeepers in Tskhinvali, thus not to leave them without any help against the acts undertaken by Georgia, and were exclusively aimed to protect the Russian peacekeepers and the civilian population as well as to stop the Georgian aggression. Russian troops do not take up the regions belonging to South Ossetia or the regions that do not belong to it.

The present situation is a result of the personal decision made by M. Saakashvili, the decision that he made and realized at his own responsibility, thus jeopardizing the stability in the whole region. President of France Mr Nicolas Sarkozy took part in the name of the European Union in the regulation of the conflict and contributed much to an agreement upon the well known peace plane consisting of 6 positions which was supported both by the Russian President Dmitry Medevedev as well as by Mikhail Saakashvili. Russia is unconditionally fulfilling its commitments according to the plan? What matters right now is how Georgians will behave.

We hope that the information set forth above will be useful for you and that you will find an opportunity to make your contribution to the solution of a major task for the present moment – i.e. to safeguard security of people, to exclude any perspective of resumed military activities of the Georgian army against South Ossetia, to return the situation to the legal framework.

And the last point. The media coverage of the tragedy is South Ossetia in Western media is extremely one -sided, preconceived and biased. No reports from South Ossetia, everything is about Gori and other Georgian cities where casualties if any are definitely incomparable with those in Thshinvali.
Imagine CNN would never have mentioned 9/11 starting with US military operation in Afghanistan. How would it look like? This is exactly the way Russia is being presented right now in your eyes. This is definitely not fair.
Best regards,

International Department
of the CC CPRF

Nuclear energy and class

by Ann Rogers

BRITAIN’S nuclear power programme was intended from the very start to produce plutonium for the manufacture of nuclear weapons. This purpose was played down and the publicity focussed on energy production and what was dishonestly referred to as “the peaceful uses of nuclear power”.
Today’s drive for a new generation of power plants is no different, even though the proposed new plants are expected to be Pressurised Light Water Reactors (PWRs) rather than the old Magnox type.
This is not surprising since nuclear weapon powers need a long-term source of plutonium and the ruling class need to be in control of its production.
Unlike those countries which have nuclear power for energy but no nuclear weapons, Britain has the facility for uranium enhancement, which can then produce plutonium. The Thorp plant at Sellafield in Cumbria is such a place – or it would be if a pipe failure in April 2005 inside a hot cell had not forced it into temporary closure.
The pipe was carrying spent fuel nitric acid. The 83,000 litre spill was contained in the cell but the incident was rated three on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The spilled liquid was recovered two months later and the British Nuclear Group (the decommissioning and clean-up arm of British Nuclear Fuels – BNFL) was fined £5,000,000 in October 2006.
Thorp (thermal oxide reprocessing) is the third reprocessing plant built to Sellafield, though the initial ideas for it go back as far as 1974. It was granted authorisation to begin operating in 1994.
As well as plutonium from uranium, Thorp was supposed to earn money. It contracted to accept spent nuclear fuel rods from countries that do not have a reprocessing plant of their own and reprocess it for a price. This meant countries such as Japan and Germany could send their nuclear waste to Britain.
Since the leak at Thorp the imported fuel has just been piling up – the contracts have not been voided. And even when the reprocessing is functioning there is a serious matter of safety because of the distances the fuel has to be transported.
Only about half of the 2,160 tonnes of fuel from advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs) has so far been reprocessed. As of the middle of last year, 1,500 tonnes of AGR fuel was planned to be reprocessed at Thorp and a further 4,500 tonnes (going up to the end of the working lives of the AGRs) was earmarked to be stored.
So, whether nuclear fuel is reprocessed or not, the problem of nuclear waste remains.
It cannot be got rid of – ultimately it can only be buried, either on land or under the sea. And given that some radioactive elements take generations to decay (for instance the most stable isotope of plutonium has a half life of 25,000 years) and that these elements are highly toxic carcinogens which can never leave us, it is a devastating time-bomb.
The latest thinking on nuclear waste seems to be to find a geologically suitable single depository. Britain has already tried a deep ocean site before 1982. But following protests from other countries the practice was subject to an international ban in 1993.
Even with land burial it has to be remembered that high-level waste is literally hot and has to be stored for 50 years to allow it to cool.
There already is a site for low-level radioactive waste at Drigg in Cumbria and this is at present is the responsibility of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The NDA is now planning deep geological repositories for high and intermediate waste – it is claimed to cost some £7.5 billion.
Not surprisingly people are not happy to live near the chosen sites. So in June last year there was a public consultation around the idea of “partnerships with potential host communities that allow issues and opportunities to be fully discussed and evaluated”. Oh how very Blairite!
More recently there has been talk of offering local communities cash incentives to agree to these plans.
In pressing for nuclear power the Government argues that nuclear power plants do not emit carbon. That is little comfort if the long-term problem of nuclear waste creates something far worse. The Government also claims that we need nuclear power in order to close the “energy gap”. First of all the term “energy gap” is misleading because the gap is not on all energy but only in electricity production. The carbon emissions from all forms of transport – air, road, rail and sea will not be lessened by nuclear power.
According to the Government the electricity gap will occur over the next few years, accounting for about one third of our current electricity supply. Nuclear power will not solve this immediate problem since not one new nuclear plant will be operational for at least 10 years and the plan to build up to 10 stations will not deliver until at least 2025.
The alternatives to nuclear power are the clean electricity-producing renewable sources such as wind, solar, tidal, hydro powers and the cleaner use of fossil fuels. In addition there is now technology being developed to retrieve carbon and bury it – preferable to burying nuclear waste.
At present these alternative sources are a drop in the ocean and will not meet current and future needs. But there is no reason why this technology cannot be developed. It would require both capital investment and investment in further research and development.
The problem is that this is not likely to be achieved if the nuclear option is taken.
Back in the mid 1980s, when Thatcher was busy destroying our coal industry, the miners’ union argued then for investment to be made in coal-fired power station design to enable coal to be used without the emissions of ash and particulates. As we know, the miners were ignored.
The thrust now is all on nuclear. There are two main reasons:
1) The link between nuclear power and nuclear weapons, and2) The prospect of big profits for capitalist enterprise.
As always capitalism is the problem – its stances towards both climate change and the electricity gap is to take measures that will not endanger business or profits and, where it can, to exploit any crisis for its own ends. And so the proposed new nuclear power plants will be in the private sector and only regulated by bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive. And, of course, they are only interested in making money.
The vultures have already been gathering. The Government wasted no time in inviting energy companies to submit plans to build new nuclear plants.
Just over a year ago the Government announced that four designs had met the criteria to go to the first stage of the assessment process: the European-based Aneva, the US-based Westinghouse (since taken over), Canada ACR and the US-based General Electric. By January of this year the French state-owned EDF and the German company E.ON threw their hats into the ring.
E.ON claimed it could finance the project without Government subsidies but most independent nuclear experts do not think nuclear energy can be financially self-supporting. They point to the £3.4 billion Government bail-out of British Energy.
We now know that it is most likely that EDF will gain the contract and they are planning to build 10 new nuclear power plants – though this is currently on hold for further haggling over money.
The British working class will ultimately foot the bill. This will include £70 billion for decommissioning the existing nuclear plants and at least a further 320 billion for burying the existing nuclear waste.
As in everything else, privatisation has been gaining a momentum in the nuclear industry for years. Nuclear plants (apart from Magnox) were put into the private sector in 1996 under British Energy (BE). The then state-owned BNFL took over the Magnox plants. BNFL later bought Westinghouse.
When economic conditions in the industry changed BE turned to the public purse for help. Between 2003 and 2005 it was restructured and the Government took a 64 per cent share. The following year the Government sold this down to 39 per cent.
The list of companies coming on and off this stage and the wanderings in and out of Government support are too long to give here.
But the nub of the matter is that capitalism wants all it can get when the Government is prepared to pick up the tab for fluctuations in the industry and difficult problems that arise and wants to walk a way if it proves less profitable than expected. So promises by firms like EDF to be self-financing may not prove true in the long term.
Everyone can see what privatisation has meant in other industries – Notwork Rail, water companies and their leaks, the London Tube maintenance fiasco and so on. And in the energy industry itself we are acutely aware of the massive rise in bills to customers.
A new generation of nuclear power plants in private hands is against the interests of the working class. It means there is no democratic control, only the limited efforts of regulation. It means we get to pay or it all while the private owners take all the profits. And it means that other energy solutions will be sidelined, under-funded and largely under-used.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Marching Through Georgia

THE CAUCASUS is ablaze after Russian forces fought to drive the Georgian army out of the breakaway republics that look to the Kremlin for protection. Meanwhile the imperialists bleat about the fate of a Georgian puppet whom they incited in the first place to launch this insane provocation. The Russians now have the upper hand. The Georgian army has been routed and the Russians have called a halt to their military operations.
The Georgians are begging for a ceasefire and blaming the West for not bailing them out of a crisis of their own making. But the man they should blame is their own president, Mikhail Saakashvili, who has brought his country to the brink of disaster through a reckless gamble that has so dramatically backfired.
Georgian forces launched a treacherous dawn attack on the autonomous republic of South Ossetia on 8th August briefly occupying the capital, Tskhinvali, and killing many civilians and a number of Russian peace-keeping soldiers and forcing tens of thousands of civilians to flee across the border to North Ossetia-Alania, which is part of the Russian Federation.
The Georgian leadership clearly believed that they could do this while many world leaders, including Russian leader Vladimir Putin, were distracted in Beijing for the opening of the Olympics; that they could rely on the US imperialism to support their unilateral aggression and that the Russians would do nothing. The reactionary Georgian nationalist regime miscalculated on all three counts.
Georgia is a willing tool of imperialism, sending troops to support the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq and pushing to join Nato and the European Union. The Americans and Israel have helped arm and train the Georgian armed forces. Georgia plays a pivotal role in the supply of oil from the Caspian region to the West as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline runs through much of the country and the Americans see Georgia as a useful base to menace Russia and the countries of the Middle East.
In Soviet times the peoples of the Caucasus lived in harmony with one another. The collapse of Soviet power in the late 1980s, led by Gorbachov and the other traitors in the Kremlin, fuelled the rise of reactionary nationalist forces throughout the USSR and the Soviet Union fell apart. The former Soviet republics declared full independence but many of them ignored the legitimate demands of the long established autonomous republics and provinces within their territories.
In Georgia the South Ossetians and Abkhazian nationalists demanded full autonomy and when the Georgian government not only rejected this but abolished their existing rights, these communities launched a full-scale revolt.
Fighting ended in the early 1990s when the Georgians recognised the autonomous republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia under international agreements that provided for the stationing of Russian peace-keeping forces.
No one should be surprised at the Russian response. Under those agreements Russian peace-keeping forces maintain the truce and they are obliged if one party breaks the ceasefire to defend the other, which is exactly what they did when they intervened to save the South Ossetians, most of whom are Russian citizens, and drive the Georgians out. The Russians have always called for a peaceful negotiated solution to the problem. The Georgian regime has continually tried to settle this by force. Last week they overplayed their hand.

Two views of Shostakovitch and Gandhi


Revolutionary Democracy, Vol XIV, No 1, April 2008. From NCP Lit, PO Box 73, London SW11 2PQ. £3.50 pus 50p P&P (cheques to New Worker).

by Ray Jones

ANYONE who has listened to Soviet music on the British media will know that you can rarely escape an anti-Stalin diatribe to go with it. This is particularly the case with the great work of Dmitri Shostakovich who bourgeois propagandists are still trying to claim as one of their own.
In this Rev Dem issue there is a short piece by Shostakovich (translation thanks to Vijay Singh) which for some strange reason is rarely quoted on Radio 3: “Soviet people, small and great, own the name of Stalin and connect it with all that is best on earth....Soviet artists devote all of their creative energy to fulfil the calls of our own Joseph Vissionarovich. His words: write the truth!”
And this was written after Stalin’s death when others were ready to lable him a monster.
Among the many other interesting and diverse articles so usual in any Rev Dem, are two to mark the 60th anniversary of the murder of the Indian leader Gandhi.
The first is by Y Roslavlev, published in 1932 by the State Socio-Economic Publishing House, Moscow/Leningrad, and is a blistering attack on “Gandhism” which concludes that it is “…from beginning to end…a reactionary factor and a better servant of the Indian bourgeoisie and of British imperialism.”
The second is by the British communist leader Rajani Palme Dutt and was written in 1948 on Ganghi’s assassination and strikes a very different note, beginning: “Gandhi died as he lived – battling in the cause of India and humanity.” But it is not a mere eulogy and does have a critical analysis – suggesting that his murder was prompted by a shift in his politics to the left (something we have seen since with leaders like Martin Luther King and Malcom X).
It is fascinating to compare the two views and I’m sure it would reward a lot of work.