|Fidel Castro 1926 -- 2016
By Robert Laurie
Revolutionary Democracy Volume XXII, No 2 April, 2017. £5.00 + £1.00 p&p from NCP Lit, PO Box 73, London SW11 2PQ.
The latest issue of Revolutionary Democracy has just arrived in Britain. The latest one (the first published since April of last year) contains the usual mixture of articles on contemporary India, news and views from around the globe and important historical material from Soviet sources.
The first quarter of the journal is taken up with articles on present day India. The main ones concern the dire effects on workers of the recent sudden withdrawal of 500 and 1,000 Rupee banknotes, a move that was supposedly aimed at corrupt businessmen but which instead hit the poorest particularly severely. There is the first of a two-part detailed dissection of the latest Indian budget and another on the 2014–15 drought that has driven many desperate farmers to suicide. This time there are two articles concerning Kashmir, one of which deals with student protests in Delhi.
Not for the first time with this journal, I found some of the articles on India a bit difficult to follow. It is difficult to know if some politicians mentioned are national or provincial figures, and some of the terminology is obscure to non-Indians. Perhaps the editors could have short introductions for each article giving the background or a general introduction to this nevertheless useful section.
Turning to the wider world, Sergei Golovchenko, a Russian film-maker, contributes an account of recent events in the Donbas describing how an area prosperous in Soviet times has been devastated by Ukrainian fascism, but he also records the heroic resistance to the fascists.
The Labour Party of Turkey (EMEP) provides a short account of how Turkey is “Step by Step Moving Towards a Dictatorship” and a longer critique of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) whom it accuses of being “reformist”, not a position the New Worker agrees with.
This section concludes with a recent interview with the General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa in which he deplores the “ideological bankruptcy and cowardly behaviour of the SACP [South African Communist Party]”, and sees the present crisis within the ANC [African National Congress] as being largely a battle between established white capitalists and an emergent capitalist class.
The archival material begins with another instalment of documents pertaining to discussions between the Soviet and Chinese parties. This time there is a report on a mission by Anastason Mikoyan to Mao Zedong in early 1949, just as the Chinese civil war was coming to an end. The most important revelation is that Mao himself hoped for orders and directions from the CPSU [Communist Party of the Soviet Union]. In contrast, Stalin declined saying that it was not permissible for one party to rule another, although advice might be proffered.
There is another example of Soviet advice in the form of a newspaper article on mistakes by the Japanese Communist Party who saw the occupying American forces were playing a progressive role in Japan. Although published in 1950, under the pseudonym “Observer”, its author was in fact JV Stalin.
The editor contributes a brief piece that refutes the claim that Soviet industrialisation was built by exploiting the peasantry, but that the sacrifices made during the first Five Year Plan that built the industrial economy which defeated Hitler were borne by the working class.
In addition to a detailed 1932 conference report criticising a recent book by the Trotskyite economist Preobrazhensky, we have an Indian Communist Party report on the 22nd CPSU Congress held in 1960 and an historical account of the widespread protests in the Soviet Union that defended Stalin against Khrushchev’s notorious 1956 attack on him. These were naturally most common in Stalin’s native Georgia but the article also describes protests in Sumgait in Azerbaijan in the early 1960s.
In contrast to my grumbles about the lack of context of some of the Indian material, the editorial introductions to the archive material are excellent.