Friday, January 29, 2016

Revolutionary Democracy September 2015

Bas-Relief at
Paveletskaya Metro Station, Moscow, 1949

By Robert Laurie

Vol. XXI, No. 2 September  2015 £5.00 + £1.00 from NCP Lit: PO Box 73, London SW11 2PQ

 The latest edition of Revolutionary Democracy, the twice yearly journal from India has just arrived with its usual mix of interesting, sometimes controversial, political and historical articles.
 The Indian material includes a piece by Badruddin Umar who shows that the Congress Party has from its earliest days been far more supportive of sectarian Hinduism than its secular reputation suggests. He blames these policies for contributing the rise of the more explicitly Hindu nationalist BJP, which is now the ruling party in India.
  Another historical piece come in the form of printing of a 1951 document from the Soviet Communist Party of the Soviet Union to the Communist Party of India in which the CPSU comments on the question of an armed rising in India, a matter of dispute within the PCI. Stalin did not think the Chinese example was appropriate for India at that time. He took the view that the military success of the Chinese party was due to the common border with the USSR which allowed the Soviet Union to send essential supplies.
            Ownership and access to the land is an important issue for millions of Indians. One article examines the small print of the 2013 Land Acquisition Act and finds that it severely restricts the bill’s purported good intentions.
 There are two reminders of the importance of the caste system and the “tribal” minorities in contemporary India in articles on the Patidar caste and events in Manipur state. British readers will see some interesting parallels between the British government’s Trade Union Bill the BJP government’s attacks on trade union rights.
 Silicosis, the incurable respiratory disease afflicting those involved in mining and quarrying is the subject of an article exposing business and government neglect of the subject.
            Rafael Martinez contributes an article entitled Podemos’s Reformism and the Revival of Keynesianisn which has little on Spain’s reformist social-democratic party, but is useful for shattering illusions that widely promoted Keynesian economics offer any real alternative to neoliberalism.
 Two Italian writers examine the present economic structure of Russia today, arguing that it is now “it is by now completely imperialist (though not at the top of the pyramid), where industrial capital has merged with bank capital, and where the big monopolies play a fundamental role”.
 A recent Telugu translation of Moshe Lewin’s 1967 book Lenin’s Last Struggle is the occasion for an overwhelming critique of his now widespread view that Lenin and Stalin became bitter enemies towards the end of Lenin’s life.
 Vijay Singh is a great admirer of the life and work of Enver Hoxha of Albania. This come through most clearly in with the opening article translated from a St Petersburg newspaper of that viewpoint which argues that the events in eastern Ukraine are largely a result of a battle between two warring imperialisms, American and Russian, for spheres of influence. While it provides useful information on the extent of Russian investment in Ukraine not everyone will be convinced about the general line of argument.
            Other pieces include a contemporary view of the 1973 fascist coup in Chile from the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany which was very critical of the Communist Party of Chile for accepting the view that a “peaceful road to socialism” was possible. An account of progress of a project to publish the complete woks of Stalin and statements from various meetings of members of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations round off the issue.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Democratic Korea: 70 years of victory!

by Dermot Hudson
I VISITED the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) for the 10th time in October at the kind invitation of the Korean Association of Social Scientists, to attend the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK).        Seeing the DPRK countryside I realised that the stories about crop failure and famine are untrue. Some elements also spread false stories about "reform", "opening up" and even the "restoration of capitalism", but in the countryside you could see the Red flag proudly displayed in the collective farm fields.                                         
            Highlights of the trip included the massive military parade to celebrate the foundation of the Workers’ Party of Korea, a torchlight parade by tens of thousands of youth and a 10,000-strong gala performance on a floating stage.
I was met at the new Pyongyang Sunan International Airport by an official of the Korean Association of Social Scientists and by my guide for the trip, Ms Ri. All traces of the old Sunan Airport were replaced by a new modern airport that is spacious and bright. Many countries boast of modern airports but these are constructed with the help of foreign capital. Sunan Airport is 100 per cent Korean in construction and design, built by the soldier constructors of the Korean People’s Army in the Juché spirit. There are no HSBC, McDonald’s, Starbucks nor KFC – everything is Korean owned and managed, in stark contrast to a certain neighbouring country where the first thing you see on coming out of arrivals is a McDonald’s.  Although Sunan Airport now has bigger capacity it still has a calm atmosphere and lacks the stress of Heathrow Airport. In some capitalist countries airports have been over expanded, drawing anger and protests. The DPRK has struck a balance between the need for international air travel and the need for environmental harmony.
Pyongyang was in a festive mood ready for 10th October. The red flag of the WPK, with its distinct hammer, sickle and writing brush, could be seen flying on many street corners. At the Party Foundation museum I learned that the sickle, brush and hammer are upright to symbolise the single-hearted unity of the masses, and the writing brush is higher to reflect the importance of intellectuals in society.
            The DPRK is one of the few countries in the world where the Red flag flies on street corners, reflecting that the DPRK upholds the red banner of socialism, frustrating all attempts to undermine socialism as dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un said in his recently published work The Cause of the Great Party of Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Is Ever-Victorious: "We must keep a watchful eye over all sorts of moves by the enemy to undermine our socialist system from within, approach these moves with political awareness and never allow any poisonous weeds of capitalism, however trifling, to sprout in the garden of socialism."
Dermot in Pyongyang
      DPRK unity was demonstrated by the massive military parade, civilian demonstration and torchlight procession of youths. The parade was a superb pageant, led by a column representing the anti-Japanese guerrillas and was symbolic of the continuity of the revolution down the generations. There were original tanks from the Fatherland Liberation War including tank no 312, the first tank into Seoul on the 28th of July 1950. There was an impressive display of tanks and missiles, including long-range missiles and a nuclear suicide unit, showing that if necessary the KPA under the command of Marshal Kim Jong Un can strike back at the US imperialists worldwide.
There was an aeronautical display of the WPK symbol and of the number 70, followed by a civilian demonstration of army-people unity, quite impossible in capitalist society where there is conflict between the people and the armed forces. Later I explained this conflict to my guide, in my home town there was an army barracks in the centre of town but it had to be moved into the countryside far outside town because each night the soldiers would go out, get drunk in pubs and beat up the civilians.
Kim Jong Un addressed the parade, his voice clear, strong and full of conviction: "For our country and people, 10th October is a meaningful revolutionary holiday when we celebrate the birth anniversary of the genuine vanguard of the revolution, its militant General Staff, which has taken responsibility for their destiny and leads them."
Military parades in the DPRK are different from those in former socialist countries because in the DPRK they march with vigour, enthusiasm and colourful displays. In the latter the military parades seemed gloomy. Some big powers may put on big military parades but these are just for show with no real content
            In the evening there was a military torchlight youth parade followed by a colourful firework display.                                
            The 10000-strong joint performance Great Party, Rosy Korea was performed on a floating stage on the River Taedong. It was started by schoolchildren but centred on veteran artistes of the DPRK. The famous Pochonbo and Wangjaesan bands performed classic numbers such as My Country is the Best. The history of the DPRK was represented by music and stunning choreography.
the heart of the capital
This anti-imperialist, anti-US spirit was demonstrated at the new Sinchon Ri museum. Sinchon Ri is where the US and local class enemies murdered 35,383 people – one quarter of the population. Can you imagine the death toll if the same thing was done in London, 2.2 million people dead. It is an understatement to say the US imperialists are as bad as Hitler’s Nazis, they were worse!
A museum was built at the site of one of the massacres not simply as a memorial to those who died but also as a centre of anti-US, anti-imperialist class education. Kim Jong Un instructed that the museum should be rebuilt, modernised and moved to the site where the massacre took place in the Chestnut valley. It is much larger than the old one, and has more detailed and graphic displays some with sound effects, showing the horrendous crimes committed by the Americans against the Koreans. The long history of US aggression against Korea goes back over 150 years.
The USA used religion as a means of creating passivity and infiltrated many missionaries into Korea to spread the worship of the US, and to recruit spies and collaborators.  My eye was caught by a depiction of a Korean, a former landlord, shown helping the US imperialists. The US imperialists were the external enemy but were helped by internal class enemies like former exploiters; the two were hand in glove.
Today the reactionary exploiting class in south Korea, led by Park Geun Hye, is hand in glove with the US in their anti-DPRK moves. My guide explained that the nature of the US imperialists is unchanging. I bought an excellent booklet Sinchon Accuses the Yankee barbarians.  None of the other socialist countries, former or present, carried out such thoroughgoing anti-US anti-imperialist class education, and it intends to increase it.
              Visiting the Fatherland Liberation War Museum one learns that the US provoked the Korean War and also of the crushing defeat inflicted on them by the heroic Korean People’s Army, commanded by the great leader generalissimo Kim Il Sung. Also displayed outside were numerous captured US weapons including the USS Pueblo, captured on 23rd January 1968. The US asked British premier Harold Wilson to ask the USSR to ask the DPRK to hand back the ship. The DPRK refused to, though Soviets also pressured the DPRK to do so.
           The International Friendship Exhibition is situated in Myohyang Mountains and the gift we presented to Kim Jong Un in 2013 is on display. 
             No visit to Pyongyang is complete without a visit to the amazing Pyongyang Metro. The cost of a ride on the Pyongyang Metro is approximately 0.003 pence, so it is virtually free and war veterans get completely free travel. The Pyongyang Metro is clean, free from vandalism, graffiti, capitalist advertising and dirt. I told my guide how dirty the London Underground is and she asked why they cannot keep it clean, given the high fares on the Tube. The Pyongyang Metro is very safe, the platforms are wide and each station has two "security girls" who ensure the safety of passengers. In London ticket offices are being closed and the numbers of staff reduced.
            The DPRK is building many blocks of flats such as Mirae Street and handing them over to the people free of charge. This would be unthinkable in Britain where a flat on the riverside in central London costs £12,000 per calendar month to rent or up to £1 million to buy.
Thanks to my dependable and reliable guide I was able to walk about the centre of Pyongyang, which not only afforded me the opportunity of fresh air and exercise but gave me the chance to see the reality of the DPRK even more deeply than before. Some enemies of the DPRK say that visitors to the DPRK simply stay in hotels and go around in tourist buses but do not really know the country; this was untrue. I encountered busy and bustling streets full of people. In the pedestrian underpasses there were no homeless people as in capitalist countries.
              There was no sign of police oppressing the people, nor heavily armed police units patrolling the streets. Travelling through the countryside to  places such as Sinchon, Mt Myohyang and Nampo there was no sign of the "forced labour and concentration camps" that the imperialists claim exist in the DPRK; I saw no barbed wire anywhere in the DPRK countryside. The "human rights" propaganda of the imperialists and the stories spread by defectors are completely false.
            The DPRK boasts excellent leisure and recreational facilities, which are either non-existent or very expensive in London. The famous Munsu Water Park is incredibly big with indoor and outside facilities such as slides, a wave machine, hairdressers and an excellent coffee bar.
            I had the privilege of meeting the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front of south Korea (AINDF), the vanguard revolutionaries of south Korea. I saw a video about US/south Korean moves to tear up recent inter-Korean agreements and provoke war; also a video concerning the attempt to revise history books in south Korea so as to embellish both Japan's occupation of south Korea and the Park Chung Hee military fascist regime, and also the struggle of the south Korean people against such a revision.
In discussions with the AINDF I noted that Park Geun Hye styles herself on Thatcher but in reality Thatcher was a leader hated by many British; when she died many came out on the streets to celebrate. The same will happen to Park Geun Hye and her fate will be the same as her father's.  It was a great visit. I was disappointed to depart the land of Juché Korea to return to the capitalist world where everything seems so depressing and miserable.

Thursday, January 07, 2016


By Explo Nani-Kofi

The uprising of the masses of Burkina Faso against the military tyranny of Blaise Compaore, which masqueraded as a civilian constitutional regime, gave a lot of democratic forces around the world a lot of hope that masses were bringing about a change. This conviction was strengthened when the masses again stopped a military take over by soldiers close to the old regime led by General Gilbert Diendéré's in September this year. Some progressive forces even started celebrating that the revolutionary forces, in the tradition of Thomas Sankara, were now directing affairs in Burkina Faso.
In an article, which I wrote during the uprising of the Burkina Faso masses in November last year, I expressed my worries as follows: “With the naming of Michel Kafando, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, as Transitional President, and his appointment of Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida, who had earlier declared himself acting head of state, as Prime Minister, it appears as if a deal is being knocked together which tilts in favour of the old ruling class and not the masses of demonstrators.”
In the same article, I cautioned that: “There is the danger of the military hijacking the struggle for which the masses have fought and even died for. To prevent this will not depend on just Burkinabes but all progressive Africans and the masses as well as all internationalists.”
On 1st December, Burkina Faso went to the polls. Despite the impression that Compaore was finished and the forces close to Thomas Sankara had woken up to turn around the 27 years of French neo-colonialism under Blaise Compaore, the elections seem to some extent to be a contest between the two figures. Many, especially friends outside, assumed that the victors will be the followers of Sankara as T-shirts with his pictures were very popular and chanted his government’s slogan: “La patrie ou la mort, nous vaincrons!” (“Homeland or death, we will overcome!”) during the uprising.
Looking at this situation, I warned in my last article that: “There doesn’t seem to be a way out as any rectification here seems to be channelled into legacy politics which is more about emotions than structure, principles and agreed programme.”
The Guardian Africa Network stated in an article on the web that “As the elections day got closer news started trickling down that, although the elections were been fought around the two figures, long time associates of Compaore were front runners in the polls. “
“The two front-runners in the election were particularly close to Compaoré. Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was prime minister from 1994-1996 and one-time leader of Compaoré’s Congress for Democracy and Progress party, while Zephirin Diabre was finance minister and economic adviser to the former president.”
It also added that “Bénéwendé Sankara (no relation), one candidate in the election, is running on an explicitly Sankarist platform, advocating a return to the former leader’s radical socialist principles. . . . . He is not expected to win.”
The elections took place on 1st December and Roch Marc Christian Kaboré won with 53% of the votes which meant that it wasn’t necessary to have a run off.  Bénéwendé Sankara of Union of Rebirth/Sankarist Party had only 2.77 per cent of the votes. Even during the elections in 2010, under Blaise Compaore, he had 6.3 per cent of the votes with another Sankarist party also gathering 2.3 per cent of the votes in that Presidential election. There were other Sankarist parties which also took some votes. However, now all the pro-Sankara forces came together under one umbrella and could only acquire 2.77 per cent in an election following an uprising which was seen as promoting the Sankara legacy. They came third after the other Compaore associate, Zephirin Diabre, who had 29.65 per cent of the votes.
In the National Assembly elections, Union of Rebirth/Sankarist Party had only 5 seats but even a group contesting under the name of Blaise Compaore’s party, Congress for Democracy and Progress, had 18 seats out of 127. My warning of the emotional attachment to legacy politics being taken out of proportion to reality will have to be looked at carefully as even the demonised elements of Compaore’s party could gain more than three times the seats of the Sankarists.
The situation explains to us how organised the establishment is and the danger of overestimating the victory of protest without rooting ourselves in the population at large. In future articles, I will look at similar situations across the African continent.
 Roch Marc Christian Kaboré is the son of a minister in the immediate post independence government on Upper Volta ( which name was changed to Burkina Faso by Sankara). He was an associate of Sankara and Compaore but after Compaore overthrew and murdered Sankara, Kaboré became Compaore’s right hand man and held various positions including leader of his party. He was with him for 26 of the 27 years that Compaore ruled. It was only in January 2014, when Compaore decided to change the constitution and contest again that he sensed the unpopularity of the move and smartly pulled out to form his party – People’s Movement for Progress – together with others who didn’t want to go down the path of destruction together with Compaore. He is French educated and his roots are deep in the ruling class in addition to having been part of the circle which run Burkina Faso since the murder  of Thomas Sankara.
We have to learn serious lessons from this and other similar situations across the African continent. The experience teaches us that unless we organise people around issues and are rooted in the population at large we will struggle only for the forces of the establishment to return to power. This lesson has led to initiatives of a new type where grassroot social movements are being built such as Black First Land First in South Africa, Ghana Street Parliament Movement  in Ghana and similar efforts to ensure that presence is built in the population at large to avoid a repetition of toiling to have the forces of the establishment of different faces to alternate in power.