Category Archives: USSR

For Trotskyist Political Revolution to Defend and Extend the Gains of the Cuban Revolution! A Response to Ross Wolfe

We republish our response to Ross Wolfe’s

Fidel Castro on the Frankfurt School

— a disgusting anti-communist rant slandering late Stalinist revolutionary leader Fidel Castro which he published on his sometimes interesting but ultimately reactionary blog “The Charnel-House”.

Pretending to be a form of Trotskyism, “State-capitalists” are those who, like the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in the USA, espouse the belief that the USSR, China and all the Stalinist/Maoist workers states (which Trotsky accurately described as “deformed workers states” that should be defended at all costs as historic gains of the workers’ movement) are in fact a new form of capitalist state that should be completely overthrown.  When the USSR collapsed it was one of the greatest defeats the working classes of the world ever suffered; the “State-capitalists” – along with the capitalist classes and the fascists of the world – celebrated its self-immolation.  We warn the workers of the world: those who call themselves “state-capitalists” are among the greatest enemies of the working class and have always proven in the end to be among the staunchest defenders of capitalism as the “lesser evil” in comparison to Stalinism.  They pretend to be Trotskyists but are unalterably opposed to Trotsky’s concept that the USSR was a bloc of bureaucratized, deformed workers states that had overthrown capitalism and therefore should be defended by the Trotskyists worldwide; he called for only a POLITICAL revolution to oust the bureaucracy in favor of a more democratic socialist workers republic.

Ever since the historic workers and peasants revolution led by Lenin’s Bolsheviks in 1917 whether or not they defended the USSR  has been a litmus test for all so-called “Marxist” workers parties.  “Those who can not defend old conquests will never make new ones” is a quote attributed to Trotsky in relation to this controversy.  When the USSR collapsed all the phony “workers parties” in the world celebrated this historic defeat for the workers of the world.  They pretend today that the “Defense of the USSR” is a moot point; in fact, as even such a relatively minor event as the death of Fidel Castro shows, any party’s response to “The Russian Question” (as it was known until the collapse of the USSR) enables us to make a very accurate characterization of the extent of their revolutionary Leninist/Trotskyist principles (or, more often, the lack thereof).

Unfortunately we do not have time to go into this in more detail.  We recommend that you read Trotsky’s  “In Defense of Marxism” (IDOM) which is a series of articles and letters Trotsky wrote attacking the Burnham/Schactman faction in the then-revolutionary Socialist Workers Party (SWP) of the US.  Trotsky succinctly describes the reasons why the USSR had to be defended by revolutionary Marxist/Leninists in  “Again and Once More Again on the Nature of the USSR”

which is included in IDOM.

— IWPCHI

Thank you Ross Wolfe, et al, for once again confirming Trotsky’s warning to workers not to follow the “state-capitalist” road. It leads to outright political disorientation and to counterrevolutionary collaboration with the capitalist class.

Castro was a Stalinist, yes. Like most people on the planet he was not a “red diaper baby”. He was forced to embrace Stalinism when the United States made it clear that there would be no acceptance of the Cuban revolution by the US capitalist class and their allies. Yet Castro must be considered to have been one of the great – if massively contradictory – revolutionary leaders of the 20th century. The Cuban Revolution transformed Cuba from being the “whorehouse of the Caribbean” to being one of the most egalitarian and civilized nation states in the entire Western Hemisphere – indeed, in the world! Even the most cursory comparison between Cuba and Haiti or the Dominican Republic – or even Puerto Rico or vast swathes of the USA – proves the superiority of even a backward Stalinist bureaucratic regime to the typical brutal satrapies of the capitalist nation-states of the region – or even that capitalist monstrosity of monstrosities the United States itself! Anyone who cannot see the tremendous gains the Cuban workers and peasants made under the – (perhaps it would be more precise to call it “Khruschevized”) – Castro regime as compared to what they suffered under the Batista regime is absolutely blind!

Attempting an analysis of the deeply contradictory nature of a phenomenon such as a Stalinized workers state is where the dialectical materialist method proves its indispensability. An analysis of the contradictory nature of a Stalinist workers state cries out for the nuanced and very comprehensive analysis only made possible through use of the dialectical materialist method as taught by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. The death of Castro provides a litmus test of every “Trotskyist”‘s ability to utilize this method of analysis in the same way that a successful solo crossing of the Atlantic by sailboat using only the most essential manual tools for navigation proves the skill of a sailor. You, Ross Wolfe and Ashmeet Teemsha – and all your “State-Capitalist” co-thinkers – have once again failed the test comprehensively. By now you should have learned that your “state-capitalist” analysis of the USSR and its progeny is rotten through-and-through. That you have not done so demonstrates your profound inadequacy as proletarian leadership material. Your chosen vessel – let’s call it “Burnham’s Folly” (with its obviously rotten, worm-eaten hull) – has never made , will never make – it CAN NOT MAKE its pretended destination!

Like all Stalinists, Castro was a man of many contradictions. Pursuing revolutionary socialist reconstruction of the Cuban economy one year and then breaking bread with the Pope the next. Praising Allende one year and standing side-by-side with his murderer and the butcher of the Chilean working class Pinochet later. This is where the anti-Marxist and nationalistic ideology of Stalinism leads: to make unprincipled blocs with the class enemy in all its forms over and over again.

But to claim that Stalinism is entirely counterrevolutionary – as Trotsky patiently explained – is absurd even on the face of things. Capitalism was indeed overthrown in Cuba and a Stalinist bureaucracy erected to defend then gains of that revolution which was, unlike the USSR’s, deformed at birth. The Castroists pursued the typical course of the Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union which the Cuban Stalinist bureaucracy was modeled after: a zig-zag course full of unprincipled compromises and the occasional outburst of honorable internationalist impulses, as demonstrated in the heroic Cuban effort in Angola. To call Castro and his regime “counterrevolutionary” through and through and to refuse to recognise and defend the very real gains of the Stalinized Cuban Workers and Peasants’ revolution is to make a mockery of Marxist analysis. It is to place oneself FAR OUTSIDE the revolutionary Trotskyist movement and on a trajectory identical to that of arch-counterrevolutionary James Burnham.

In what way are your anti-Castro and anti-Stalinist statements to be distinguished from those of the most virulently anticommunist capitalists, or even the fascists? “Fidel Castro, Sta­lin­ist butcher and en­emy of the work­ers, is dead. [Good fucking riddance.”] The work­ing class won’t be happy un­til the last bur­eau­crat is hung with the in­test­ines of the last cap­it­al­ist.” This is not Trotskyism. It is pure, rabid, emotional anticommunism. Anti-Stalinism taken to an absurd length; where the well-engineered and time-tested tools that enable one to make a rational, carefully considered dialectical materialist analysis are tossed aside and replaced with cheaper, poorly crafted non-dialectical tools that can only create outrageously hysterical emotional outbursts. Using those cheap tools to craft your “analysis” of the Cuban revolution and one of its principal leaders, you find yourselves standing on a creaky platform of your own construction among your co-thinkers in the anti-communist Cuban gusano exile community in places like Miami, Florida; your words and theirs almost identical. You try to win these rotten elements over to your side politically by utilizing their entirely subjective and pro-capitalist analysis of Cuba in place of a scientific, Trotskyist dialectical materialist analysis. And you poison the minds of the workers by pretending to be Marxist revolutionaries – Trotskyists even! – while howling along with the anticommunist mobs chanting slogans indistinguishable from those of even the fascists.

Immediately after Castro died, we warned the working class to keep an eye out for those who are seeking to utilize the death of Fidel Castro as an opportunity for slandering him and the Cuban deformed Stalinist workers state, as these people thereby expose themselves as the mortal enemies of the working class they truly are. You have taken up your rightful position as such enemies of the working class and this lesson must never be – will never be – forgotten by young proletarians who are seeking to lead the workers of the world to the long-delayed (principally by fake-Marxist “leaders” like you!) final victory over the capitalist class. In the last analysis, today’s State Capitalist “Marxists” will prove to be as counterrevolutionary as were all the “state-caps” that came before them. You are headed down the road of the repulsive anticommunist James Burnham, not the road of Lenin and Leon Trotsky. You are well on your way to a rapprochement with “the lesser evil” capitalist class and their bribed lackeys. Some of you made that deal long, long ago and are deliberately trying to destroy the workers movement by spreading your anti-Trotskyist poison. The working class has no use for “leaders” like you! Be on your way! And “good fucking riddance”!

Workers: Defend the Cuban Revolution! For Trotskyist political revolution in Cuba to Defend and Extend the Gains of the Cuban Revolution Throughout the Americas!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago

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Defend North Korea! IWPCHI Congratulates N. Korea on 1st Successful H-Bomb Test

We republish below today’s historic announcement by North Korea of its first successful H-bomb test.

We congratulate the North Korean government on this awesome scientific and military achievement and wholeheartedly agree with the North Korean government that maintaining an effective nuclear deterrent force in North Korea is absolutely necessary in order to effectively defend the North Korean workers state from annihilation by the #1 terrorist state in the world: the government of the United States of America (and its sock-puppet ally, the government of South Korea).

The boundless hypocrisy of the US government in its expressions of horror at the idea that tiny North Korea – thanks to its planned socialist economy – is able, even in the face of crushing US and world economic and technology sanctions, to field a growing and effective nuclear deterrent force, would be laughable if it did not barely cover the US Government’s blood-lust to avenge its defeat at the hands of the North Korean and Chinese communists in the Korean War.  The United States is of course armed to the teeth with thousands of nuclear weapons of all description, capable of destroying every capital city on Earth.  The US is also the only nation ever to actually use nuclear weapons in the history of the world, which in did in the twin, monstrous war-crimes against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945.  The United States and South Korean governments have remained in a state of war against North Korea since the 1950s and continually threaten North Korea with nuclear annihilation in annual “war games” that include flying nuclear-armed B52-bombers to within a few miles of the border of the North Korean workers state!  Imagine how the US government and public would react to the Russians or Chinese holding such war games at sea 5 miles off the coast of Virginia!  The North Koreans are not hallucinating when they compare the enormously unequal threat that faces them to an unarmed person being attacked by a pack of ravenous wolves.

As revolutionary Trotskyists, we will always defend socialist workers states from all attacks launched against them by the capitalist and imperialist states of the world.  Every Trotskyist worthy of the name must stand up in defense of those nations like North Korea where the workers and peasants have overthrown their capitalist masters and established workers governments – no matter how repressive those governments may be.  Those who cannot defend the historic victories of the international revolutionary socialist workers movement will never achieve victories of their own!  This is a fundamental principle of military strategy in general and of revolutionary socialism in particular.

The programme of North Korea’s revolutionary socialist party (the Workers’ Party of Korea, or WPK) is based on what we consider to be a major abandonment of Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist principles: “the Juche Idea”.  Basically it is a variant of the counterrevolutionary Stalinist concept that claims – quite erroneously and dangerously – that it is possible to build “Socialism in One Country”.  As the collapse of the Soviet Union proved conclusively, and as the increasingly pro-capitalist Chinese Maoist government proves today, once a revolutionary party abandons the principles of revolutionary internationalism, the restoration of capitalism will follow in due time.  In order for socialism to be successful, it, like capitalism before it, must overthrow – all over the world – the reactionary class that is holding back the march of human progress.  In the case of the American and French revolutions of the 1700s that class was the feudal aristocracy; in the case of today’s revolutionary socialist movements that reactionary class is the worker-robbing and war-mongering capitalist class.  The only reason North Korea has not been brought to its knees so far in spite of the West’s brutal and inhumane economic blockade has been the fact that China has, in solidarity with its fellow workers state, sent billions in aid to North Korea (as the USSR did before it was betrayed into the hands of the capitalists by the Stalinist traitors).  Back in the 1970s, when both China and the USSR were subsidizing the North Korean economy, the standard of living in North Korea was actually far higher than in South Korea.

North Korean and South Korean annual GDP compared. Source: Trading Economics http://www.tradingeconomics.com/north-korea/gdp

North Korean and South Korean annual GDP compared. Source: Trading Economics http://www.tradingeconomics.com/north-korea/gdp

The collapse of the USSR (which took place in 1989 – see chart above), as well as the ongoing repulsive and counterrevolutionary restoration of capitalism in China (which has resulted in the Chinese “communist party” leadership’s increasing hostility to N Korea) have led to a steep decline in the standard of living in North Korea. Only thanks to North Korea’s planned socialist economy can the country continue to guarantee the basic necessities of life to its citizens – which they are doing.   There is no way that North Korea will be able to continue to exist unless workers throughout Asia overthrow the capitalist (in the case of China, proto-capitalist) ruling classes and create revolutionary socialist workers states that can provide the economic aid crucial to North Korea’s continued existence.  That is why revolutionary Trotskyists call for a pro-socialist political revolution in China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba to defend socialism, repudiate capitalist exploitation and to re-instill the revolutionary INTERNATIONALIST socialist ideals of the COMINTERN under leadership of Lenin and Trotsky. We defend the very real and substantial economic, social and political gains of the North Korean and Chinese revolutions while opposing the reactionary and repressive political parties that lead those states.  Only a revolutionary socialist political revolution of the workers of China and North Korea that ousts these reactionary bureaucracies can lead to a true defense of socialism and most importantly to the expansion of socialist revolutionary ideas and parties dedicated to the overthrow of the capitalist system throughout Asia and the world.

We also condemn the hostile statements and actions of the traitorous fake-communist and capitalist-restorationist Chinese “Communist Party” leadership in regard to North Korea’s steadfast attempts to buttress its ability to defend itself in the face of unbridled and continuous US imperialist aggression.

Workers of the World, Unite!

—IWPCHI

http://www.kcna.kp (Korean Central News Agency – official news agency of North Korean government – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)

DPRK Proves Successful in H-bomb Test

Korean / English / Chinese / Spanish / Japanese

Pyongyang, January 6 (KCNA) — The DPRK government issued the following statement Wednesday:
There took place a world startling event to be specially recorded in the national history spanning 5 000 years in the exciting period when all service personnel and people of the DPRK are making a giant stride, performing eye-catching miracles and exploits day by day after turning out as one in the all-out charge to bring earlier the final victory of the revolutionary cause of Juche, true to the militant appeal of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).
The first H-bomb test was successfully conducted in Juche Korea at 10:00 on Wednesday, Juche 105 (2016), pursuant to the strategic determination of the WPK.
Through the test conducted with indigenous wisdom, technology and efforts the DPRK fully proved that the technological specifications of the newly developed H-bomb for the purpose of test were accurate and scientifically verified the power of smaller H-bomb.
It was confirmed that the H-bomb test conducted in a safe and perfect manner had no adverse impact on the ecological environment.
The test means a higher stage of the DPRK’s development of nuclear force.
By succeeding in the H-bomb test in the most perfect manner to be specially recorded in history the DPRK proudly joined the advanced ranks of nuclear weapons states possessed of even H-bomb and the Korean people came to demonstrate the spirit of the dignified nation equipped with the most powerful nuclear deterrent.
This test is a measure for self-defence the DPRK has taken to firmly protect the sovereignty of the country and the vital right of the nation from the ever-growing nuclear threat and blackmail by the U.S.-led hostile forces and to reliably safeguard the peace on the Korean Peninsula and regional security.
Since the appearance of the word hostility in the world there has been no precedent of such deep-rooted, harsh and persistent policy as the hostile policy the U.S. has pursued towards the DPRK.
The U.S. is a gang of cruel robbers which has worked hard to bring even a nuclear disaster to the DPRK, not content with having imposed the thrice-cursed and unheard-of political isolation, economic blockade and military pressure on it for the mere reason that it has differing ideology and social system and refuses to yield to the former’s ambition for aggression.
The Korean Peninsula and its vicinity are turning into the world’s biggest hotspot where a nuclear war may break out since they have been constantly stormed with all nuclear strike means of the U.S. imperialist aggressor troops, including nuclear carrier strike group and nuclear strategic flying corps.
While kicking up all forms of economic sanctions and conspiratorial “human rights” racket against the DPRK with mobilization of the hostile forces, the U.S. has made desperate efforts to block its building of a thriving nation and improvement of the people’s living standard and “bring down its social system”.
The DPRK’s access to H-bomb of justice, standing against the U.S., the chieftain of aggression watching for a chance for attack on it with huge nukes of various types, is the legitimate right of a sovereign state for self-defense and a very just step no one can slander.
Genuine peace and security cannot be achieved through humiliating solicitation or compromise at the negotiating table.
The present-day grim reality clearly proves once again the immutable truth that one’s destiny should be defended by one’s own efforts.
Nothing is more foolish than dropping a hunting gun before herds of ferocious wolves.
The spectacular success made by the DPRK in the H-bomb test this time is a great deed of history, a historic event of the national significance as it surely guarantees the eternal future of the nation.
The DPRK is a genuine peace-loving state which has made all efforts to protect peace on the Korean Peninsula and security in the region from the U.S. vicious nuclear war scenario.
The DPRK, a responsible nuclear weapons state, will neither be the first to use nuclear weapons nor transfer relevant means and technology under any circumstances as already declared as long as the hostile forces for aggression do not encroach upon its sovereignty.
There can neither be suspended nuclear development nor nuclear dismantlement on the part of the DPRK unless the U.S. has rolled back its vicious hostile policy toward the former.
The army and people of the DPRK will steadily escalate its nuclear deterrence of justice both in quality and quantity to reliably guarantee the future of the revolutionary cause of Juche for all ages.
Juche Korea will be prosperous forever as it holds fast to the great WPK’s line of simultaneously pushing forward the two fronts. -0-

 

 

In Wake of “Charlie Hebdo” Murders – Capitalist Media, Nationalists, Fascists, Liberals Spread Twin Lies of “Christianity Under Attack” and “Imminent Islamicisation”

The enemy of the working classes of Europe and the US are not our working-class sisters and brothers of the “Muslim world”: the mortal enemies of the working class are the bloodthirsty capitalist classes of Europe, the US and the Middle East who are committing mass murder against our working-class Muslim and Arab sisters and brothers every day! US/UN/NATO: Out of the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria! Keep your bloody hands off the world! Workers of the world: let’s unite and overthrow our capitalist masters; for international workers socialist revolution! Oppose anti-immigrant attacks scapegoating immigrant workers for the many failures of the capitalists and their crumbling greed-based economic system! For full citizenship rights for all immigrants! Unions: Create antifascist workers defense guards to crush the fascist vermin in the egg! Build a revolutionary internationalist workers party to fight for a global socialist workers republic!

– IWPCHI

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11 January 2015

This past week, a pair of self-proclaimed “defenders of the Prophet Muhammad” stormed into the editorial offices of vulgar, anticlerical French “satire” magazine “Charlie Hebdo” and murdered a dozen members of the editorial, creative and security staffs. Absurdly driven to commit multiple murders by Hebdo‘s childishly insulting satirical portraits of the Prophet Muhammad and His followers, two lunatic religious fanatics who happened to be Muslim, utterly opposed to any concept of “freedom of expression” when it comes to their own religion, sought to “redeem” what they believed to be the sullied name of Islam by butchering a handful of cartoonists! Even Hollywood couldn’t invent such an outlandish tale – such are the sad realities of life on our Planet Earth in the 21st century under the auspices of a global police state “led” by the financially and morally bankrupt “civilized, Christian” United States of America and the EU!

The way these Islamic fundamentalist wackos act, one might think that Islam was a religious sect so frail and poised on the brink of extinction that creating and broadcasting a popular satirical sketch of the faith on Saturday Night Live might be all it would take to consign it to the long list of once-popular religious faiths that have vanished from the face of the Earth. In fact, Islam needs no repulsive mock-hero heretic-killers to “defend” it: with over 1.8 billion women and men counting themselves among the followers of the Prophet Muhammad, the religion is today the second-largest in the world, only slightly behind Christianity – and growing rapidly.  But of course, rational thought is now and always has been alien to the fanatics of every religion that ever existed; these are not the kind of people who allow objective reality to intrude upon their infinitesimally narrow world-views.

The bourgeois press and the capitalist-financed nationalist and fascist political parties of Europe and the Christian “West” wasted no time in latching on to the Hebdo murders as “proof” that Islam is not, as its adherents claim, “a religion of peace” – like what, Christianity? – but is in fact a religion whose believers, secretly or openly, espouse the doctrine that all who do not accept Muhammad as being a prophet of God are heretics who should be put to the sword. If all Muslims actually did believe this to be true, the world’s 1.8 billion followers of Muhammad would have finished off the world’s 2.2 billion Christians long ago. Of course none of the claims of fascists that the “Hebdo” killers represent “Islam” are based in reality; nor do the resulting frantic and opportunistic cries of the fascists in opposition to the imaginary threat of imminent “Islamicization” have any basis in reality outside of their own appetite to acquire state power for themselves, after which their supposedly much less murderous “Christian” nation-states would presumably embrace the entire world in their egalitarian, peace-loving arms.  Which is what would happen if these “civilized, Christian” fascists came to power, right?

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The propagandists of the endless “War on Terror” led by the United States capitalist class and their allies in NATO are portraying the conflict as one in which a “civilized” Christian world “dedicated” to the defense of freedom of religion and freedom of speech is being wantonly attacked by those in the Muslim world, who all – openly or secretly – seek to impose their world-view and religious beliefs upon the Christian world by force.  Anyone who can take even a cursory glance at the centuries-long history of conflict between Islam and Christianity can see what a farce it is for the “Christian West” to pose in the robes of the “messenger of peace” Jesus Christ. “Christian Europe” fired the first shots in this war during the Crusades long ago, and engaged at that time in brutal, unprovoked attacks on the then relatively far more “civilized” and tolerant Muslim world in which the Christians gave no quarter to the “heretic” Muslim masses, man, woman or child. European Crusaders – (very much like today’s US/NATO crusaders) – bragged in letters they sent back home of heroic “battles” in which they slaughtered unarmed civilians seeking shelter inside Mosques until the blood ran ankle-deep. This was back when their primary weapons were hand-held; swords, spears and clubs; their heavy weaponry consisted of wooden siege engines and catapults.  The only difference between the “civilizing forces” of the “Christian world” of then and now is to be found in their modern capacity to kill far more people in far less time without necessarily having to even personally be on the same continent as their victims!

The Crusader-fanatics of the “civilized, Christian” world of the Middle Ages, who all believed that by forcing their own religious belief system upon the Muslim world through their own Medieval version of NATO-style terrorism they were doing “God’s Work”, find their spiritual descendants in mirror image in the Muslim “terrorists” of today; they can find their predecessors among the religions fanatics of every major religion going all the way back before the dawn of written history.  Killing in the name of religion wasn’t invented by the Muslims on September 11, 2001, nor was it invented by the Christians in the Middle-Ages. And in recent years it hasn’t been the “terrorists” of the “Muslim World” that have been responsible for the vast majority of the indiscriminate slaughtering of non-combatant men, women and children with impunity – as those keeping body counts for both “teams” know all too well.  It is the so-called “civilized, Christian World” that has been at work torturing and butchering Muslims from Egypt to Indonesia for most of the 20th and all of the 21st centuries. It’s only in the last 40 years or so that the “Muslim World” has begun to organize to fight back effectively. In this as well, we see a parallel with the Crusades: after initially being taken by surprise by the unprovoked and furious assaults that came out of Europe over the most flimsy pretexts, the Muslim world organized itself and counterattacked, eventually driving the Christians not just back to the borders of their own countries but driving Christian Europe almost to the brink of its own extinction. It wasn’t until the 1600’s that the wave of Muslim conquest in Europe fell back, receding eventually to its present-day borders in Eastern Europe, Turkey, to the Levant and the shores of North Africa.

When the “civilized” Christian world reconquered its territory in places like Spain and Italy, the “civilized” Christians didn’t create new polities where religionists of all kinds were welcome to worship as they pleased; the Christians either forced Jews and Muslims to convert to Christianity, drove them out of the country – or burned them at the stake! “Christian civilization” only allowed the freedom of worship to those who were Catholic – everyone else was a heretic who could be set upon, beaten or lynched at any time. When these same “civilized Christians” first journeyed to the New World, they brought their “one, true faith” with them; and their God, in their rather convenient interpretation of His will as revealed through the  events that were to follow, seemed to smile indulgently upon their mindless butchery of the “heathen” native populations – a butchery that was carried out largely with the consent and acquiescence of the Catholic – and later, the Protestant – clergy. Millions were slaughtered or enslaved by these “civilized” Christians over the next 400 years. When the native populations proved to be unwilling to be used as forced labor on the slave plantations of the “civilized Christians”, these followers of Jesus Christ started kidnapping African “heathen” and selling them into slavery. The number of Africans who died on the slave ships taking them into captivity is unknown but believed to be at least 2 million.

We’ll skip a bit of the long, bloody history of “civilized Christianity” to take a look at how the “civilized Christians” of Europe and the Americas have treated the Muslim and Arab populations of the world since at least the late 1400s. Colonizing the whole of Africa and the Middle East, as well as large parts of Asia and India, these “civilized Christians” enslaved, tortured and murdered their way to the seizure of the most valuable lands, raw materials and human labor of two and a half entire continents. Tribal communities were summarily driven off lands they had occupied for millennia; nation-states that had existed for as long or longer were cut up like so much cloth and distributed to the “civilized, Christian” European plunderers, out to stuff their pockets with gold – by any means necessary.

After World War I, these emissaries from “civilized, Christian” Europe sat down in drawing-rooms and pored over maps of the Middle East and North Africa, chopping up the regions into gerrymandered nation-states ruled over by colonial governments or satraps who plundered these new nation-states wantonly. Anyone who tried to oppose them faced beatings, torture, long-term imprisonment, assassination or execution. These policies continued throughout the 20th century and continue to the present day, in which the massive war machines of “Christian, civilized” USA, UK, France, Germany, the rest of the NATO states and their local proxies have tortured, murdered and bombed civilian populations from Gaza to Iraq to Iran to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over a million and a half Iraqis alone have been murdered in TWO major wars in the past 20 years – wars inflicted upon the people of Iraq by the “Christian, civilized” United States of America. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the “Christian, civilized” US President Bush authorized mass bombings of civilian areas in Iraq and Afghanistan, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children as well as the mass torturing of thousands more; “Christian, civilized” President Obama has authorized remote-controlled drone attacks that have killed thousands of women and children as well as the assassinations of hundreds of men whose only “crime” was simple association with “suspected terrorists”.

In spite of all of this well-known and massive human carnage committed by “civilized, Christian” Europe and the USA against the Muslim world, we are supposed to believe that it is not the Muslims that are being subjected to mass murder at the hands of the “Christian world” but vice versa! What could be more absurd? The US and its NATO allies have mass-murdered well over – WELL over! – 1.5 MILLION Arab and Muslim people in the past 20 years alone!  The “civilized, Christian” world hails the soldiers who committed these monstrous crimes as “heroes”; the churches of the US and Europe sing hosannas to their memories every Sunday and sports stadiums full of brainwashed “civilized, Christian” citizens salute the military organizations that plan and carry out these mass-murders every day; but when a handful of religious fanatics claiming to represent Islam kill a dozen “civilized, Christian” satirists, it’s the crime of the century – and “proof” that Islam, not Christianity is the religion of fanatical murderers!

This monstrous falsification of the historical record is presented to us 24/7 via the “civilized Christian” bourgeois press, which simply ignores the entire history of the “civilized, Christian” world and its many many crimes committed against Muslims all over the globe, and spreads the lie that these obviously retaliatory strikes were “unprovoked attacks”! They tell us with straight faces that the very existence of “civilized, Christian” Europe is at stake unless… more massive military assaults are unleashed against the “uncivilized Muslim world”!  As if we, the “swinish multitude” of “dumb workers” are unable to remember the history of the past 50 years, and the war crimes we and our children were forced to commit as conscript soldiers in the imperialist armies!

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Do not misunderstand us: the senseless and cowardly murders of the “Charlie Hebdo” staff are repulsive to us and to every decent human being on this planet of every religious stripe – or lack thereof. The “Hebdo” killers represent the very real threat that exists, incredibly, here in the 21st century from the religious fanatics of EVERY organized religion, whose most deranged and fanatical followers think nothing of butchering men, women and children – without regard to the religions of their victims – in the name of their completely imaginary “gods”!  The threat to human civilization is not just coming from Muslim religious nuts; Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist religious zealots – to name but a few – have all committed mass murders in the past 20 years – with the forces of the supposedly “civilized, Christian” West responsible for the vast majority of murders of civilians by far.  The religious zealots of the world can be expected to continue to keep on killing “heretics” until the working class creates a real 21st-century civilization in which the basic human needs of food, clothing, shelter, education and health care – including mental health care – are guaranteed to all; and until the workers of the world overthrow the warmongering capitalist class and put an end to their phony “War on Terror”!  Only once all human needs are being met in an egalitarian socialist future will the futile practice of begging “God” for food, water, shelter and everything else no longer be necessary for the long-suffering workers of this tragic human race.   Only then will we see religious extremism “wither away” – finally – after thousands of years in which organized religion and its most fanatical adherents have caused at least as much human suffering as they have managed, with their meagre superstitious methods – to relieve.  The inauguration of that glorious religious-zealot-free future will definitely require the overthrow of the greed-based capitalist system, in which religion is a necessary prop keeping the system from toppling over.  The capitalist classes of the US and EU are right now seeking to destabilize the “Muslim world” in order to facilitate massive profit-stealing via their seizure of the easy pickings of the Middle Eastern oil fields.  They plan to lock down the entire planet in a global police state run by the USA and their (for the time being) junior partners in the EU.  It’s in the best interests of the workers of the world to stop the capitalists before they kill again.  No one else can do it.

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The men and women committing the terrorist attacks against civilians “in the name of Islam” no more represent “Islam” than the Christian fundamentalists who bomb abortion clinics and torture and murder as soldiers in the US imperialist military represent “Christianity”, the Hindu fanatics who kill Muslims represent all Hindus or the fascistic, murderous Zionist lunatics represent all Jews.   All religious zealots who murder in the name of their religions are, first of all, INSANE; secondly, they are mere criminals. To elevate the murderers of the  Hebdo staff to the level of “terrorists” who represent the will of millions of Muslims all over the world is to give them far more credit than they deserve. Killing these religious fanatics only turns them into instant martyrs; they should be captured, arrested and tried as common criminals, because that’s what they are. They are criminally insane, with delusions of being “messengers from God” who they truly believe sanctions the murder of non-believers in “His” name.   The fact that people like this still exist in the 21st century is stark testament to the failure of the capitalist system to bring real “civilization” to the world.  It is also a tragic reminder of what happens when the efforts of more than a century and a half by the working classes of the whole world – including our sisters and brothers in the Middle East – to overthrow the capitalist system have been driven back by capitalist classes all too willing to commit any crime against the workers. In order to maintain their class rule and to defend an economic system that has robbed the workers of the world and transferred that stolen wealth into the hands of a tiny number of human beings – who now  possess more than half of the world’s wealth, the capitalists have murdered revolutionary worker-leaders all over the Middle East and Asia, from Afghanistan to Iran, from Sri Lanka to Egypt.   It is capitalism and its endless insane quest for more and more profits that financed Islamic fundamentalism as a force with which to batter the workers movements of the Middle East into submission;  it is the capitalist classes of the US and UK that financed, trained and unleashed these religious fanatics on the world in order to crush the USSR in Afghanistan.

The Soviet Union successfully fought Islamist fundamentalism starting in the 1920s, freeing women throughout Central Asia from the bondage of the chador, the bride price and complete social isolation.  We are proud to have been part of the Trotskyist Spartacist movement that proudly declared “Hail Red Army in Afghanistan!” in 1980.  That intervention had the potential to spike resurgent Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan which – had it not been for the CIA’s terrorist training camps that sponsored Osama Bin Laden’s anti-Soviet efforts that eventually drove the USSR out of Afghanistan – might have prevented the rise of fundamentalist Islam throughout the Middle East in the 1980s and ’90s, and the shit-train of human suffering that was ushered in by it.

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In the wake of the “Charlie Hebdo” murders, the long, disgusting history of the brutalities the “civilized, Christian” world has heaped upon the Muslim world have been simply erased from the memory banks of the bourgeois press by the fascist and nationalist apologists for bloodthirsty “Christian civilized capitalism”; the capitalist-owned politicians and media hacks are also spreading the ridiculous fraud of the imminent “Islamicization of Europe” which allegedly threatens to destroy “civilized, Christian European” “principles” of “tolerance” and “love for one another” so close to the bloodless hearts of the warmongering “Christian, civilized” capitalist classes of Europe and the USA! Josef Goebbels would enjoy this spectacle of hypocrisy, wouldn’t he, if he was alive today? Stalin, whose “historians” were so adept at erasing national heroes like Leon Trotsky from the pages and photographs of Soviet newspapers and history books – and whose regime was roundly condemned by the “civilized, Christian” west for doing so! – would enjoy this charade as well!

The fact is that in today’s modern world, human beings can easily move across the face of the planet and are – or should be – free to settle anywhere their hearts desire without any obstacles being placed in their way.  We, as revolutionary Trotskyists, consider all workers to be our brothers and sisters; we repudiate the capitalists’ assertions that foreign-born workers are “aliens” and we fight for full citizenship rights for all immigrants!   (Anti-immigrant legislation and propaganda serve to cloak the inherent inability of the capitalist system to provide jobs for all able-bodied workers with the lie that there would be work for everyone if it wasn’t for the immigrants “stealing” “our” jobs!  In fact, the capitalist system, in order to function profitably, maintains a reserve army of the unemployed so as to keep ALL workers’ wages down; the capitalists use the immigrants as scapegoats).

Those who yearn for “the good old days” of national isolation, where natural boundaries like mountain ranges and oceans fostered unique cultural identities – as well as hideous economic, political, cultural and intellectual backwardness –  are yearning for a world that is gone and which – happily for the working classes – isn’t coming back.  The population of the United States represents only 4.5% of the world’s population; “White” Europeans are a tiny minority of the global population as well.  The world is moving rapidly in the direction BACK to the status of a much more homogeneous “racial” makeup that ended maybe 100,000 to 200,000 years ago, when the entire human race was just emerging from Africa.  To revolutionary socialists – THIS IS A GOOD THING!  The increased “racial” mixing via intermarriage should eventually destroy every vestige of racist ideology, bringing all the world’s people much closer together again.  Globally, today, believers in Islam make up approximately 25% of the world’s population.  If all our Muslim brothers and sisters were evenly distributed in every nation, 25% of the population of, say, France, would be Muslim.  But that is not the case; French Muslims make up just 7.5% of the entire population of France!  The French nationalists and fascists screaming that France is being “Islamicised” are crying wolf, desperately attempting to hold back an evolutionary trend that can only be brought to a halt through vicious racist immigration quotas that will not stop the natural global migration of our fellow human beings all over the world.  In other nations where the fascists and nationalists are trying to stoke irrational fears of impending “Islamicization”, the Muslim populations as a percentage of the total populations of those countries are as follows:

Germany: 5.0%

UK: 4.6%

US: 0.8%

Sweden: 4.9%

Netherlands: 5.5%

Source: Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_by_country

Obviously, the Muslim immigration to Europe is going to have to increase exponentially in order to simply reach global parity in our lifetimes.  The massive exodus of people from traditionally Muslim countries to Europe has been driven in the first place by the “Global War on Terror”, which has deliberately destabilized majority-Muslim countries merely in order to facilitate the plundering of those nation-states by the US and EU multinational corporations that dictate US/NATO foreign policy and which seek to make profitable investments in the region – without regional strongmen taking their “cut” of the plunder – or threatening to kick the imperialists out on their asses.  The overthrow of capitalism in the US and EU states would lead to the overthrow of the brutal dictatorships in North Africa and the Middle East, which would result in a cessation of immigration to Europe and quite probably the return of many immigrant workers now living in EU countries to the lands of their birth.  To believe that the rapid influx of immigrants from North Africa into Europe due to the “Global War on Terror” is permanent and irreversible is to believe that the highly unstable political and economic status quo in Europe is also “permanent and irreversible”, which is inherently contradictory.  Workers socialist revolution is both possible and desirable – and necessary! – in Europe and everywhere else; and if the working class can make that happen, the likelihood of a long period of peaceful and rational development of the entire human race becomes a probability instead of highly unlikely under a more and more xenophobic and nationalistic capitalism.

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The lies we are having heaped upon us in desperate defense of the tottering capitalist status quo in the EU from the mouths of the bourgeois journalists and the press attaches of the “civilized, Christian” governments of the west require the most strenuous efforts of those of us in the revolutionary socialist workers movement to oppose them and to provide the working classes of the world with the truth about the hideous crimes that the ruling classes of the “civilized, Christian” world have committed against our brother and sister workers in the Muslim world.  The reactionary, anti-immigrant and cynical “Je Suis Charlie” campaigns – orchestrated by the racist and fascist apologists for US/NATO war crimes carried out throughout the Muslim world – must be avoided like the plague by workers all over the world. The capitalist classes of Europe and the Americas are seeking to terrify the working class into giving their approval for more vicious military attacks on our fellow workers in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan – and throughout Europe and the whole world – in order to crush any opposition to the capitalists’ plans to destabilize and re-colonize the Middle East.  The only resource the “civilized, Christian” capitalists care about is the oil under the lands now occupied by our working class brothers and sisters who, in the majority, “happen to be” Muslim. The capitalists know that they will never obtain a green light from the workers to butcher our own Muslim sisters and brothers with impunity until they can turn them in our eyes into cartoonish, hate-filled religious wackos hell-bent on mass murder of civilians in Europe and the Americas. In other words, the capitalist classes that run the US/NATO military murder machine want us to believe that the people of the Middle East are about to do to US what the US and NATO have been doing to THEM all these years, and are using the “Hebdo” murders to justify more war against our sisters and brothers throughout the Muslim world! The enemy of the working classes of Europe and the US are clearly NOT our fellow workers in the Muslim-majority nations; our enemies are the capitalist classes of the entire world who make their billions through the endless mass-murder of their “War on Terror”!

Don’t fall for the lies of the capitalists: our enemies aren’t our sisters and brothers in the “Muslim World” but our capitalist masters here in “civilized, Christian, capitalist” USA and Europe!  Workers of the World, Unite!  For workers socialist revolution in the US, Europe, the Middle East and throughout the capitalist world!

IWPCHI

The US Has a Vicious, Murderous Government Because Most US Citizens are Vicious, Murderous People Who Don’t Care About the Rest of the World

You like to “think outside the box” do you?   So do we: in fact, we have lived “outside the box” for so long we have forgotten what it’s like to think “inside the box”.  So here’s some “outside the box” thinking for you.  You’re welcome in advance!

As a public service to our working-class sisters and brothers around the world, we would like to take a moment to explain what, to the 95.5% of the world’s population living outside the United States apparently appears to be an unsolvable riddle: “Why is it that the seemingly nice, friendly people of the United States have such a vicious, murderous, warmongering government?”

The answer, brothers and sisters, is simple: the vast majority of the citizens of the United States are vicious, selfish, ignorant cretins who don’t give a shit how many of you are murdered by the US military so long as the standard of living in the US enables them to barely survive.  We like to tell people that so long as the price of gasoline remains below $5.00/gallon, the vast majority of the citizens of the United States will continue to not give a shit how many innocent women and children are butchered annually by a raping, murdering, torturing US military that the majority of US citizens consider to be “heroes” to the last man.   So long as the price of gasoline keeps falling, you can expect these scum to continue to give the US military a blank check to go ahead and kill as many people as the US capitalist class feels is necessary to maintain the economic status quo here in the United States.  And the rest of you – the 95.5% of the world’s non-US citizens – can all go fuck yourselves.

No one else is going to be honest enough to tell you that that is really what the vast majority of the shitty “American people” of 2014 think.  They’re so stupid that not 1 in a thousand of them even KNOW that the US only makes up 4.4% (and falling) of the world’s population.Fuck the rest of the world!is a common statement we hear from US workers all the time.  Living here in the United States is like living in an insane asylum full of chronological adults barely functioning at a grade-school level.

No one here in the United States – or in the rest of the world except ourselves – wants to address the fact that the overwhelming majority of the people of the United States have become so corrupted morally by the utter degeneracy of the US capitalist class that they simply do not give a rat’s ass how many men, women and children are murdered every year by “their” government in its endless and phony war on “terrorists” – terrorists who have largely been recruited, organized, trained and armed by “their” US Government.  So long as the stupid and selfish citizenry of the USA can barely afford to feed, clothe, shelter and amuse themselves they will continue to not give a shit about anything being done to their fellow human beings all over the world. by the execrable US capitalist class and its bought-and-paid-for government and its military war machine.

The US working class has been so completely brainwashed into believing the disgusting US corporate philosophy that “greed is good” and that every human being is responsible for their own welfare and owes absolutely nothing to any of their fellow human beings.   This philosophy is extremely popular in the US among its workers – a philosophy, by the way fully embraced by what large numbers of the stupid US working class sees as an “alternative” to the Republican and Democratic parties – the inane and inhumane “free-markets-for-free people” “philosophy” of  Libertarianism.   It is for this reason that we warn our working class sisters and brothers around the world that US workers in 2014 have come to resemble their closest historical precursors – the “good German citizens of Hitler’s Germany.

In fact, the citizens of the United States are almost exactly like the citizens of Nazi Germany in their self-imposed faux-ignorance of the realities of what their government is doing to the rest of the world – with one major exception, which only serves to make the viciousness of today’s US citizen all the more repulsive: in Nazi Germany, there was pervasive censorship of the news media far more comprehensive than what we see in the US today.  Though the German people in Hitler’s era were able to listen to shortwave radio broadcasts from around the world, they were subject to severe penalties for doing so.  In the United States today, though there is vast but usually subtle self-censorship of the news media and television, there is the Internet – and no criminal penalties for utilizing it to inform oneself about how the rest of the world perceives the USA.  But Americans are so apathetic and, frankly, stupid that they don’t want to be bothered using the Internet to read the vast amount of first-hand reports of US military atrocities being daily committed all over the world.  Instead, US citizens use their computers to entertain themselves and to keep themselves distracted from what is going on in the world… because when it comes right down to it, they simply don’t give a shit.

Like the vast majority of German workers under the Hitler regime, the vast majority of the US workers under the bloodthirsty Obama regime delude themselves into believing that things aren’t really all that bad; or if they are, that “there is nothing that we (meaning the US working class of 175,000,000 or so people) can do about it”.   That facile excuse for not giving a shit is utilized by almost every “nice” US citizen you ask about it.  Think we’re lying?  Give it a try!  If you know a native-born American citizen – black, white, Hispanic, Asian – it don’t matter – ask them about any important issue regarding the US government’s vicious policies being carried out in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria or Israel.  We’ll wager that you will quickly elicit either a blank stare accompanied by the sound of crickets chirping… and then a savage reaction when you challenge them on their offhand attitude to the monstrous brutalities being carried out all over the world in the THEIR NAME, utilizing weapons systems paid for with THEIR TAX DOLLARS to murder innocent women, men and children all over the Middle East, western Asia.

A typical reaction from a US citizen might be: “the US military is being used to fight terrorism – and that’s a good thing”.  They will get very defensive and start to get agitated – so press them a bit harder and you will finally get: “I don’t care about what’s going on in the rest of the world!  I care about what’s going on here!”

The one thing that American citizens hate more than anything is people who remind them and inform them of the crimes being committed by “their” government all over the world.  They resent being told by us about these things and they hate us for bringing this information to their attention because it strips away their ability to continue to pretend that they don’t know what’s going on.  They don’t want to read about US military atrocities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq or anywhere else because once they do then they are forced to openly admit that they aren’t going to do anything about it – because they just don’t care.  And they hate that!  US citizens want to be seen as being nice people who love everyone and who want to like others and be liked in return.  So they try to hide their inner viciousness with a veneer of benign ignorance.  They are so selfish that they wouldn’t try to change things even if they believed that they could, because that might make their lives a bit less comfortable than they are – and dull, conformist middle-class comfortability is, after all, the birthright of every US citizen, right?  (Well, every “white” US citizen anyway…).

You still believe that we exaggerate?  Try this: ask your American friends about “Fallujah”.  See if they even know what that word means.

Ask them if they heard about the four boys who were blown to pieces by an Israeli naval vessel in Gaza this year.  Ask them if they know how many women and children were murdered by their “hero” sons and daughters in the US military this year.   Ask them what they know about “Abu Ghraib” and see if they even have a vague recollection of what that name means.  And then challenge them on their callous indifference to the suffering of their fellow human beings at the hands of their own sons and daughters in the US military and see what kind of reaction you get!  Americans hate to be forced to reveal their inner hideousness!

Their historical memories of world-infamous atrocities committed by the US government are no better.  Ask ANY American how many people were killed in the Vietnam War:  their answer (if they can answer the question at all) will most likely be: “53,000”.  Of course, that’s only the number of Americans who were killed in the war.  They don’t know, because they prefer not to know and/or don’t care, how many Vietnamese were butchered by the US during the Vietnam War.  They have been brainwashed into believing that US veterans of the Vietnam War were “heroes” rather than “war criminals”.  “Don’t forget” they will remind you: “the people the US killed in Vietnam were all communists, so killing them was a good thing”!

Ask any US citizen about the US-imposed war against Korea in the 1950s and you will get a blank stare.  That war is unknown to most Americans because they don’t give a shit – except when they fatuously heap praises on veterans of that utterly senseless and savage war because, in their tiny minds, ALL veterans of US wars are “heroes”.  They have no idea that in the Korean War an estimated 3,000,000 Koreans were savagely butchered by the US military.  They don’t know or care that these “heroes” were ordered to, and did shoot down thousands of unarmed Korean civilians in war crime after war crime.   They don’t care enough to look into it – but they “know for sure” that the North Koreans are crazy, that their communist government is a threat to something that they call “world peace” which is under constant attack from crazy people all over the world and which is why they support the mission of the US military – which they idiotically believe to be “the defense of world peace”.

“But we Americans always give generously to charity; and the United States gives more money in foreign aid to poor countries than any other country in the world!” they will exclaim.  They believe these lies but they’ve never bothered to check the facts because they really don’t care.  They are satisfied with the APPEARANCE of their generosity, not with the reality or unreality of it.  They don’t give money to charity because they are good decent human beings: they give it because they are rotten, corrupt and vicious human beings – but they don’t want anyone to KNOW that!  So they pinch a few pennies and attempt to purchase absolution for their callous indifference to human suffering by making a token donation of a ten-thousandth of their income to charity every year – then they order their town or city council to drive the homeless out of their midst and demand that organizations like “Food Not Bombs” be prevented from feeding starving street people.  They don’t care that two of their favorite and largest so-called “charitable organizations” – the United Way and the American Red Cross – have been busted  for wasting tens of millions of dollars of donations on lavish salaries, offices and banquets for their wealthiest donors, or that they simply don’t even try to provide any kind of accounting at all for what they do with the hundreds of millions of dollars they rake in every year.  The indifference of the US citizenry is necessary in order for these vast charitable frauds to be perpetrated decade after decade.

So, what is to be done about this, sisters and brothers?  Especially by you, our working-class sisters and brothers who make up the 95.5% of the world’s population?

First of all: stop thinking that the United States is composed of really nice, compassionate human beings who are simply not aware of the monstrous crimes being perpetrated by the US capitalist class and its military all over the globe: the citizens of the United States don’t know about what’s going on because they don’t want to know and they don’t give a damn.  They are willfully ignorant, hoping that by remaining aloof to the suffering imposed on millions of their fellow human beings by the US Government they can continue to be perceived as being merely unaware of the suffering they are solely responsible for as citizens of the United States who have the unique responsibility for imposing their will on “their” national government.  The citizens of the US believe in their corrupted, amoral hearts that they are benefiting economically from the brutalities inflicted by the US military around the world and so they refuse to do anything to stop the atrocities.

Secondly: do not expect the situation to change any time soon in the United States.  There is not an inkling of any motion among US workers to start fighting even for their own rights, let alone for yours (the uprising in Ferguson, MO is very tiny and has set for itself political goals so feeble as to be utterly useless even in the narrow realm of fighting police brutality in Ferguson itself).  It is possible that things could change, and that’s why we continue to agitate for a socialist workers revolution here in the US: it would be the best thing for the whole planet if the US capitalist class and their state was overthrown by the workers of the US and replaced by a revolutionary socialist government – but it does not look very likely to happen any time soon, if ever.  The citizens of the USA, like their predecessors in Nazi Germany, are literally fat, dumb and grudgingly satisfied enough with the racist capitalist status quo to allow the US Government a free hand to brutalize and colonize the whole planet for the foreseeable future.  Do not expect the stupid assholes of the 2014 US working class to help you drive the US military and US corporations out of your countries in any way, shape or form.

The bottom line:  unless a major sea change takes place in the minds of the workers of the United States – and soon – it is going to be up to YOU – our working-class sisters and brothers OUTSIDE THE US – to band together worldwide and organize yourselves to do the same thing to the United States that the international working class was compelled to do when the Red Army of the no longer extant USSR smashed Nazi Germany in 1945.  There is no other way forward.  If the people of the United States continue to act like “good Germans” they are doomed to suffer the fate of the “good Germans” in 1945.  The world simply can not afford to wait for the relatively pampered, spoiled, over-entertained, over-amused, selfish, pro-capitalist, socialism-hating proto-Nazi US working class to start acting like civilized human beings.  Time is not on our side:  the US government is preparing to unleash a series of massive pre-emptive military assaults on any nation that dares to stand up to the lust of the US capitalist class for global domination of the world’s political and economic future – and the workers of the US are giving them a free pass to do whatever it takes to maintain the current economic status quo inside the US.  Declining gas prices are just going to increase the indifference of the US workers as they find a bit more change in their pockets every time they fill up their gas-guzzling cars at the service stations of America.

The future of the entire planet is at stake.   If 4.5% of the world’s population, due to its callous heartlessness, selfishness and untrammelled greed, must be wiped out so that the planet can survive, then so be it.  It’s a small price to pay!  No one will miss the United States when it’s gone – except brutal dictators and criminal bankers and capitalists who depend on the US military to drown every manifestation of revolutionary socialist working-class leadership in blood wherever and whenever it raises its heroic and noble presence among us.

It is high time that the working class of the United States stood up on its hind legs and started fighting against the encroaching fascism here in the USA and organized itself into revolutionary socialist workers parties dedicated to overthrowing the US capitalist class and its capitalist state and its hideous war machine and building a socialist workers republic!  The slogan “Either socialism or barbarism” has never been more sharply posed as it is today right here in the United States of America!

Workers of the World, Unite!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago

CIA NAZI WAR CRIMINALS FILES: UKRAINIAN FASCIST PRIEST IVAN HRINIOCH

We are pleased to present to our readers the latest in our series of declassified document collections from the CIA’s Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room.  Our series so far has featured documantary proof that the US Government and its secret “intelligence agencies” have been deeply involved in protecting and promoting the Ukrainian fascist movement since the end of World War II.  The US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and its successor organization, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) conspired to first protect key wanted Ukrainian war criminals – fascist leaders from the Ukraine – from capture and trial by the USSR at the end of the war, and then provided these fascist scum with false biographies and aliases in order to enable them to emigrate to the United States, where they lived out their lives to a ripe old age, all the while providing material and financial support to the fascist underground in the Ukraine.

The primary organization that the CIA decided to enlist in their “holy war” against the Soviet Union were elements of the notorious OUN/B – the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists/ Bandera faction – led by war criminal and collaborator with Hitler’s Nazis Stepan Bandera.  These fascist paramilitary units were responsible for the mass murder of Jews, Poles and communist activists throughout the Ukraine.  Their organization was always supported by the United States since at least 1946 and continues to the present day, as the United States today backs the Svoboda Party in the Ukraine – an organization that traces its roots directly to the OUN/B.

In today’s publication, we present the CIA’s released dossier on Father Ivan Hrinioch – a Ukrainian fascist priest ordained into the Greek Catholic Church in 1934 who later became a lecturer in Theology at the Academy of Theology in Lemberg.  Among his major “accomplishments” as a fascist priest was his proclamation via radio of his church’s blessings upon the new Hitlerite “Ukrainian State” proclaimed by Bandera and his followers in 1941.

Hrinioch was an envoy to the Vatican during the immediate postwar period; this tripartite alliance between the CIA, the Vatican and Eastern European fascist movements has been a difficult subject for researchers of the Nazi era to obtain documentary proof on.  We are happy to provide a small contribution to these studies in the form of these documents.  They have been released since 2010 but to our knowledge have not been given the attention they deserve from anti-fascist writers and scholars.

We heartily recommend that readers new to this subject first take a look at the National Archive’s companion essay to these documents that was produced at the time of the document release:   “Hitler’s Shadow: Nazi War Ciminals, U.S. Intelligence and the Cold War”  by Richard Breitman and Norman J.W. Goda.  Chapter 5 will give you a fine introduction to the fetid swamp of US Government collaboration with these Ukrainian Nazis.  Far from being an new development, these documents show that from the OSS’ William Donovan to Sen. John McCain, there is an unbroken thread of US Government support being given to the Ukrainian fascist movement.

— IWPCHI

CIA WWII NAZI WAR CRIMINALS FILES: UKRAINIAN FASCIST PRIEST FATHER IVAN HRINIOCH

International Women’s Day – Spartacist League Classic: “Early Communist Work Among Women: The Bolsheviks”

In honor of International Womens’ Day we republish a classic article from the revolutionary Trotskyist Spartacist League’s now-defunct and greatly missed journal “Women & Revolution”.— IWPCHI

Early Communist Work Among Women: The Bolsheviks

From Women and Revolution issues Nos. 10 and 11, Winter 1975-76 and Spring 1976.

The Soviet Union provides the classic illustration of Fourier’s observation that the progress of any society can be gauged by the social position of the women within it. To the extent that the Bolshevik Revolution was victorious, Soviet women were liberated from their traditional, subservient social positions; to the extent that the Revolution degenerated, the position of the women degenerated. The fact that this degeneration has been incomplete—that Soviet women continue to enjoy advantages and opportunities unknown in the West—is precisely because the degeneration of the Soviet workers state has also been incomplete, i.e., capitalism has not been restored.

The Old Order: “I Thought I Saw Two People Coming, But It Was Only a Man and His Wife”

Russian folklore testifies to the fact that women in pre-revolutionary Russian society were commonly considered generically defective to the point of being subhuman. But such attitudes had not prevailed in Russia from time immemorial. In ancient times, women had had the right to rule their own estates, choose their own husbands, speak in the community councils and compete for athletic and military honors. Epic songs are still sung in some provinces about mighty female warriors called polnitsy —a word derived from the Russian pole, meaning “field” and, in a secondary sense, “battlefield.” These women warriors, according to folk tradition, wandered alone throughout the country, fought with men whom they encountered on their way and chose their own lovers as they pleased: “Is thy heart inclined to amuse itself with me?” the so-called Beautiful Princess asks the Russian folk hero Iliia Muromets.

But the centuries which witnessed the growth of the patriarchal family, the rise of Byzantine Christianity with its doctrine of the debased nature of women, the brutal Tatar invasion and the consolidation of dynastic power, also witnessed the obliteration of these ancient privileges.

During these centuries Russian women were progressively excluded from politics, education and social life in general. Those of the lower classes became beasts of burden who might be driven with a stick if it pleased their husbands. Those of the upper classes were physically removed from society and imprisoned in the terem or “tower room”—an upper chamber of the house built expressly for the lifelong seclusion of women. Peter the Great (1672-1725), in his determination to transform Russia into a modern commercial and industrial state, holds the distinction of releasing women from the terem and compelling them to mingle with men at public social functions, as they did in the West.

The Empresses Elizabeth and Catherine the Great (1729-1796) continued to encourage more progressive attitudes toward women, and they constructed academies for their education. On the eve of the Russian Revolution, women constituted 30,000, or almost one quarter, of the 125,000 students enrolled in Russian universities.

Despite these reform measures, however, women continued to be severely oppressed in pre-revolutionary Russia. Not only was the number of educated women only a tiny fraction of the total population (the illiteracy rate for women was 92 percent in 1897), but the lack of educational opportunities had a much more stultifying effect on women than on their male counterparts, because they were far more isolated.

Peasant women grew old early from overwork and maltreatment. Even when elementary education was available to girls, it remained customary for them to stay at home to care for the younger children until they were old enough to work in the fields. Husbands were generally chosen by the fathers, who sold their daughters to the highest bidder. Tradition decreed that the father of the bride present the bridegroom with a whip, the symbol of the groom’s authority over his new wife.

Those peasant women who sought to escape to the cities found that they were paid lower wages than their male co-workers and that all skilled trades were closed to them. Outside of domestic service and the textile industry, marriage constituted grounds for immediate discharge.

Life was somewhat more comfortable, of course, for women of the middle and upper classes, but not much more fulfilling. While educational opportunities were more accessible to them, the kind of education deemed appropriate for women was limited. Husbands, as among the lower classes, were chosen by the fathers, and the law bound women to obey their husbands in all things.

Equal Rights for Women

The radical notion of equal rights for women was originally introduced into Russia by army officers who had been stationed in France after the defeat of Napoleon and who brought back to Russia many of the new liberal, republican and democratic ideas to which they had been exposed.

Male intellectuals continued to participate in this movement for the next hundred years. They championed higher education for women and entered into fictitious marriages with them in order to provide them with the passports they needed to study abroad. Well-known authors such as Belinsky, Herzen, Dobroliubov and Chernyshevsky encouraged women in their struggle for equal rights.

The active participation of men in the struggle for women’s liberation and the fact that prior to 1906 the masses of Russian men and women did possess equal political rights—that is, no rights at all—meant that at a time when women’s suffrage organizations were on the rise in the West, Russian women and men continued to engage in united political struggle.

Equality of political oppression broke down only after the Revolution of 1905. On 17 October of that year Tsar Nicholas II issued a manifesto which provided for the summoning of a state duma based on male suffrage only. A group of the newly-enfranchised men immediately appealed to the author of the manifesto, Count Witte, for female suffrage, but this was refused. Out of this defeat arose the first feminist organizations in Russia—the League of Equal Rights for Women and the Russian Union of Defenders of Women’s Rights.

Like all feminist organizations, these groups sought to achieve their goals through reforming the social system. At the first meeting of the League of Equal Rights for Women, which was held in St. Petersburg (later renamed Petrograd and presently Leningrad) in 1905, a number of working women put forward a resolution demanding measures to meet their needs and the needs of peasant women, such as equal pay for equal work and welfare for mothers and children, but the bourgeois women who constituted the majority of the membership rejected this proposal in favor of one which called only for the unity of all women in the struggle for a republican form of government and for universal suffrage.

One of the League’s first actions was the presentation to the First State Duma of a petition for female suffrage signed by 5,000 women. This petition was presented three times between 1906 and 1912 but was never accepted. Minister of Justice Shcheglovitov commented:

“Careful observation of reality shows that there is a danger of women being attracted by the ideals of the revolutionaries, and this circumstance, in my opinion, obliges us to regard with extreme care the question of encouraging women to take up political activity.

— Vera Bilshai, The Status of Women in the Soviet Union

Feminism or Bolshevism?

Side by side with the burgeoning feminist movement, the pre-revolutionary years witnessed the development of work among women by the Bolsheviks and other avowed socialists—work which was greatly accelerated by the entrance of masses of women into industrial production.

The programs and strategies of feminism and Bolshevism were counterposed from the outset. The feminists declared that women’s most pressing need was political equality with men, including participation at every level of government. Only when women were in a position to influence all governmental policies, they said, would cultural and economic equality be possible. To achieve their political goal, the feminists created multi-class organizations of women united around the struggle for equal rights.

Socialist organizations also struggled for equal rights for all women. “We hate and want to obliterate,” said V. I. Lenin, “everything that oppresses and harasses the working woman, the wife of the working man, the peasant woman, the wife of the little man, and even in many respects the women from the wealthy classes.” But socialist organizations from the beginning rejected the feminist reform strategy and insisted that full sexual equality could not be achieved short of a socialist society. Far from leading them to abandon special work among women under capitalism, however, this position encouraged them to pursue it more ardently in the knowledge that “the success of the revolution depends upon how many women take part in it” (Lenin).

As early as 1899 Lenin insisted that Clause 9 of the first draft program of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) contain the words: “establishment of complete equality of rights between men and women.” The program adopted by the Second Congress of the RSDLP in 1903 included this demand as well as the following special provisions:

“With a view to safeguarding the working class from physical and moral degeneration, and also with the view to promoting its capacity for waging a struggle for liberation, women should not be employed in industries harmful to the female organism, they should receive four weeks’ paid pre-natal and six weeks’ post-natal leave; all enterprises employing women should have nurseries for babies and small children, nursing mothers should be allowed to leave their work for at least half an hour at intervals of not longer than three hours, and male factory inspectors should be replaced by women in industries with a female labor force.”

VKP(b) v rezoliutsiiakh, quoted in William M. Mandel, “Soviet Women and Their Self-Image”

Throughout the entire pre-revolutionary period the Bolsheviks pressed their demands for complete sexual equality as they carried out educational and organizational work among women through every possible vehicle—cultural and educational organizations, evening schools, trade unions. Centers of Bolshevik agitation and propaganda also took the form of women’s clubs. In 1907, such a club was opened in St. Petersburg under the name “The Working Women’s Mutual Aid Society,” while in Moscow a similar club was called “The Third Women’s Club.”

Through this special work the Bolsheviks were able to recruit many working women to communist politics. One of these recruits, Alexandra Artiukhina, later recalled:

“When we began to attend the Sunday and evening schools, we began to make use of books from the library and we learned of the great Russian democrat, Chernyshevsky. Secretly, we read his book, What Is to Be Done? and we found the image of the woman of the future, Vera Pavlovna, very attractive.

“The foremost democratic intelligentsia of our time played a considerable role in our enlightenment, in the growth of revolutionary attitudes and in women’s realization of their human dignity and their role in public. They acquainted us with the names of Russian revolutionary women, like Sofia Perovskaya and  Vera Figner.

“Later, in underground political circles, we read the works of Marx, Engels and Lenin. We understood that the enslavement of women occurred together with the establishment of private ownership of the means of production and the beginning of exploitation of man by man and that real equality and real freedom for women would be found only in socialism, where there would be no exploitation of man by man. Therefore, the most reliable path for the liberation of women was the path of political struggle against capitalism in the ranks of the proletariat.”

— A. Artiukhina, “Proidennyi put,” in A. Artiukhina et al. (eds.), Zhenshchina v revoliutsii

Women and the War

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 precipitated a dramatic transformation in the lives of Russian women, ripping them away from their private family roles and throwing them into entirely new social roles in factories, hospitals, at the front and in the streets.

During the very first months of the war, military mobilizations took approximately 40 percent of Russian working men out of industrial jobs, many of which had to be filled by women. Between 1913 and 1917 the percentage of women working in the metal trades in Petrograd rose from 3.2 percent to 20.3 percent. In the woodworking industries, the number of women increased sevenfold. In papermaking, printing and the preparation of animal products and foodstuffs their number doubled.

This entrance of large numbers of Russian women into industrial production was a profoundly progressive step because it laid the basis for their economic and political organization. By the time of the October Revolution, women constituted about ten percent of the membership of the Bolshevik Party and were represented at every level of the party organization.

While many female comrades took a special interest in party work among women, it was always clear that this important arena of work was the responsibility of the party as a whole and not solely of the women within it. This Bolshevik refusal to differentiate political functioning on the basis of sex is also illustrated by the fact that neither in the party nor in its youth section did women ever constitute a male exclusionist faction or caucus. There were, at times, women’s commissions and departments to oversee special work among women, but these always remained under the control of higher party bodies composed of comrades of both sexes.

The absence of women’s caucuses was not, of course, an indication that the party was entirely free of sexist attitudes; only that the struggle against such attitudes was carried out by the party as a whole on the basis of communist consciousness, which was expected to transcend sexual distinctions.

One of the foremost Bolshevik leaders in the struggle against reactionary attitudes toward women within the party was V.I. Lenin. In an interview with  Clara Zetkin of the German Social Democratic Party, he said:

“…Unfortunately it is still true to say of many of our comrades ‘scratch a Communist and find a Philistine.’ Of course you must scratch the sensitive spot, their mentality as regards women. Could there be a more damning proof of this than the calm acquiescence of men who see how women grow worn out in petty, monotonous household work, their strength and time dissipated and wasted, their minds growing narrow and stale, their hearts beating slowly, their will weakened? Of course, I am not speaking of the ladies of the bourgeoisie who shove onto servants the responsibilities for all household work, including the care of children. What I am saying applies to the overwhelming majority of women, to the wives of workers and to those who stand all day in a factory.

“So few men—even among the proletariat—realize how much effort and trouble they could save women, even quite do away with, if they were to lend a hand in ‘women’s work.’ But no, that is contrary to the ‘right and dignity of a man.’ They want their peace and comfort. The home life of the woman is a daily sacrifice to a thousand unimportant trivialities. The old master-right of the man still lives in secret. His slave takes her revenge, also secretly. The backwardness of women, their lack of understanding for the revolutionary ideals of the man, decrease his joy and determination in fighting. They are like little worms which, unseen, slowly but surely rot and corrode. I know the life of the worker and not only from books. Our Communist work among the women, our political work, embraces a great deal of educational work among men. We must root out the old ‘master’ idea to its last and smallest trace. In the Party and among the masses. That is one of our political tasks, just as it is the urgently necessary task of forming a staff of men and women well trained in theory and practice, to carry on Party activity among working women.”

— Clara Zetkin, Reminiscences of Lenin

International Women’s Day

A great deal of radical agitation and propaganda among working women centered around the observance of International Women’s Day, a proletarian women’s holiday which had originated in 1908 among the female needle trades workers in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and which was later officially adopted by the Second International.

The holiday was first celebrated in Russia on February 23, 1913, and the Bolshevik newspaper, Pravda, devoted a great deal of space to publicizing it. Beginning in January, Pravda initiated a special column entitled “Labor and the Life of the Working Woman,” which provided information about the various meetings and rallies held in preparation for the holiday and about the resolutions which were passed at them.

The first International Women’s Day in Russia drew tremendous attention in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Pravda published a special holiday edition, greeting the working women and congratulating them upon entering the ranks of the fighting proletariat. In opposition to the Mensheviks, who wanted the celebration of International Women’s Day confined to women, the Bolsheviks insisted that it was a holiday of the entire working class. Bolshevik speakers around the country took the opportunity to put forward the Marxist analysis of the oppression of women and to explain the Party’s strategy for women’s liberation through socialist revolution.

Bolshevik work among women was so successful in fact that by the winter of 1913 Pravda was receiving more correspondence than it could handle on the special problems facing working women. The solution, Lenin urged, was another journal aimed specifically at proletarian women. It was entitled  Rabotnitsa (The Working Woman). Rabotnitsa played a crucial role in organizing women and rallying them to the Bolshevik Party. (For a detailed account of its development, see  “How the Bolsheviks Organized Working Women: History of the Journal Rabotnitsa,” Women and Revolution No. 4, Fall 1973.)

The Bolsheviks’ major political competitors, the Mensheviks, attempted to counter the influence of Rabotnitsa with a women’s journal of their own called Golos Rabotnitsi (Voice of the Working Woman), but it appeared only twice and failed to win much support.

Menshevik attempts to organize women through mass meetings seem to have fared badly also. Klavdia Nikolaevna, who later became an editor of Rabotnitsa, described one such meeting as follows:

“At the meeting there were many women and frontline soldiers. Suddenly, a group of Bolshevik working women burst into the hall and pushed their way to the speakers’ platform. The first and second to reach the platform collided with it, but the third was able to gain a foothold on it, and she made such a fiery speech about the aims of the revolution, that all the women and soldiers left the meeting singing the ‘International’ and only one Menshevik was left in the auditorium.”

[LOL! Sounds like a typical Spartacist League intervention in an ORO‘s meeting – IWPCHI]

— K. Nikolaevna, “Slovo k molodim rabotnitsam,” A. Artiukhina et al. (eds.), Zhenshchina v revoliutsii

“The First Day of the Revolution—That Is the Women’s Day”

As the war dragged on, the daily life of the Russian working class grew steadily worse. By 1916, bread lines in Petrograd were often over a mile long with the women, who constituted the great majority of them, standing four abreast. In this situation of massive social unrest, the intervention of the Bolsheviks, who placed the blame for the war and the high cost of living squarely on the shoulders of the autocracy, evoked a deep response from the war-weary masses. The Bolshevik slogan, “Bring back our men!” was frequently found scrawled across factory walls, and Bolshevik proclamations, such as the following, appeared in underground newspapers and were posted on walls:

“The black scourge of war has destroyed…our workers’ organizations…. The government has dealt treacherously with our deputies—class-conscious working women and working men—and our sons, husbands and brothers are bleeding profusely on foreign fields, paying with their lives to procure new markets, new lands for triumphant capital….

“Thus is it possible not to raise our voices in protest, the voices of hundreds of thousands of unfortunate mothers, wives and sisters, is it possible that we will shed only inaudible tears, sigh only secret sighs for the pain of the men? This cannot be, comrade working women. In all countries workers are rising up against their oppression by capital; we rise up and our voices demonstrate that we are also able to defend our children, husbands and brothers….

“Enough bloodshed! Down with the war! A people’s court for the criminal autocratic government.”

— Bolshevik International Women’s Day proclamation (23 February 1915), quoted in A. P. Konstantinov and E. P. Serebrovskaia (eds.), Zhenshchiny Goroda Lenina

Pitirim Sorokin, who was an eyewitness to the February Revolution, has written:

“If future historians look for the group that began the Russian Revolution, let him [sic] not create any involved theory. The Russian Revolution was begun by hungry women and children demanding bread and herrings.”

—Pitirim Sorokin, Leaves from a Russian Diary

Sorokin is correct in pointing out the importance of the women in the streets in the series of events which led to the downfall of the autocracy, but this is only half the story.

Street demonstrations by women had been occurring in the major cities for several months, but they had generally been no more than local disturbances leading at most to the looting of one or two shops. The demonstrations of 23 February—International Women’s Day—1917 were of another order. These were massive city-wide actions involving thousands of people who struck their factories, raised political banners, turned over railroad cars and attacked the police who attempted to restrain them.

All radical parties had intended to celebrate International Women’s Day in the customary manner—that is, with rallies, speeches and the distribution of leaflets. Not a single organization had called for labor strikes. When on the eve of the holiday a group of working women met with a representative of the Bolshevik Party, V. Kayurov, to discuss the next day’s activities, he specifically cautioned them to refrain from isolated actions and to follow the instructions of the party.

Despite his advice, however, a few hundred women textile workers assembled in their factories early on the morning of the 23rd and resolved to call a one-day political strike. They elected delegates and sent them around to neighboring factories with appeals for support. Kayurov happened to be engaged in an emergency conference with four workers in the corridor of the Erikson Works when the women delegates came through that plant. It was only by this chance encounter that the Bolshevik representative learned of the forthcoming strike action. He was furious:

“I was extremely indignant about the behavior of the strikers, both because they had blatantly ignored the decision of the District Committee of the Party, and also because they had gone on strike after I had appealed to them only the night before to keep cool and disciplined. There appeared to be no reason for their action, if one discounted the ever-increasing bread queues, which had indeed touched off the strike.”

— V. Kayurov, Proletarskaia Revoliutsia No. 1, 1923, quoted in George Katkov, Russia 1917: The February Revolution

The strike was thus unauthorized by any political group. It was, as Trotsky said, “a revolution begun from below, overcoming the resistance of its own revolutionary organizations, the initiative being taken of their own accord by the most oppressed and downtrodden part of the proletariat—the women textile workers, among them no doubt, many soldiers’ wives.”

By noon of the 23rd an estimated 90,000 workers had followed the working women out on strike. “With reluctance,” writes Kayurov, “the Bolsheviks agreed to this.”

As the striking workers, who came mostly from the Viborg District on the north side of the city, began their march into the center, they were joined by thousands of women who had been standing all morning in the bread lines, only to be informed that there was to be no bread in the shops on that day. Together they made their way to the Municipal Duma to demand bread.

For the remainder of the day the streets swarmed with people. Spontaneous meetings were held everywhere, and here and there hastily improvised red banners rose above the crowd, demanding bread, peace and higher wages. Other demands were scrawled on the sides of streetcars: “Give us bread!” and “No bread, no work!” One woman streetcar conductor later recalled:

“…When we conductors turned in our money for the night, we saw soldiers with rifles standing to one side of the gate, and on the following day they were still in the conductors’ room and walking about the yard. Leonov [a Bolshevik who had been one of the leaders of a successful streetcar conductors’ strike the previous year] quietly said to us: ‘This is all for us; you see today in Petrograd 200,000 workers are on strike!’

“We began to leave the yard to embark in the municipal streetcars when suddenly we saw a crowd of workers coming at us, shouting: ‘Open the gate to the yard!’ There were 700 people. They stood on the rails and on the steps of the Gornyi Museum opposite the yard. The workers were from a pipe plant, a tannery and a paper factory. They told us that today all the plants in our city were on strike and the streetcars were not running. The strikers were taking the streetcar drivers out of the hands of management. From all sides we heard: ‘Down with the war!’ ‘Bread!’ and a woman shouted: ‘Return our husbands from the front!’

“The strikers swept over the city. A demonstration of workers from the Putilov Factory marched to the center of the city and into it, like a flood, merged again and again the crowds of workers….”

— K. Iakovlevoi in Vsegda s Vami: Sbornik posviashchennyi 50-letiiu zhurnala “Rabotnitsa”

All in all, the day passed with relatively little violence. A few troops were called out to assist the police, but it was determined that they were unnecessary, and they were returned to their barracks. In the evening the audience at the long-awaited premiere of Meyerhold’s production of “Lermontov’s Masquerade” heard some gunshots through the red and gold drapes of the Alexandrinskii Theater, but there were no casualties and no one suspected that anything especially out of the ordinary was taking place.

They were mistaken. During the days which followed, the general agitation not only continued but assumed an ever more violent character until the hollow shell of the once-powerful Romanov dynasty crumbled.

One week after the strike which had setoff this chain of events Pravda editorialized:

“The first day of the revolution—that is the women’s day, the day of the Women Workers’ International. All honour to the International! The women were the fist to tread the streets of Petrograd on their day.”

— Fanina W. Halle, Women in Soviet Russia

Toward October

“The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution: Draft Platform for the Proletarian Party, “ written immediately upon Lenin’s return to Russia in April 1917, stated:

“Unless women are brought to take an independent part not only in political life generally, but also in daily and universal public service, it is no use talking about full and stable democracy; let alone socialism. And such ‘police’ functions as care of the sick and of homeless children, food inspection, etc., will never be satisfactorily discharged until women are on an equal footing with men, not merely nominally but in reality.”

— V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 24

Throughout the spring and summer of 1917 the Bolsheviks intensified their work among women. The first working women’s conference, which took place at Lenin’s suggestion and which was attended by Mensheviks, Social Revolutionaries and feminists as well as Bolsheviks, demonstrated the influence which the Bolsheviks had gained among working women.

In her address to the conference, Konkordiia Samoilova, a leading member of the Bolshevik Party, proposed that all political work among women in industry be carried out henceforth under the guidance of Bolshevik organizations. Naturally, this proposal met with the fierce resistance of the representatives of other radical organizations. A Menshevik, Bakasheva, argued that the women’s movement was independent and must not be subordinated to the influence of any political party. But although three or four women expressed solidarity with the Menshevik resolution affirming the non-partisan character of the women’s movement, it was defeated, while Samoilova’s proposal for Bolshevik leadership was accepted.

Under the mounting pressure of events in the months preceding October, animosities on the left became more intense than ever. In July an abortive uprising took place. Although the Bolsheviks had counseled against such a move at this time, when the class lines were drawn they took their places in the front ranks of the proletariat. A Russian working woman recalls:

“I remember how we went to the July demonstration. Our organized working men and working women arose under the Bolshevik signs. Loudly and mightily our voices resounded: ‘We who were nothing and have become everything shall construct a new and better world.’

“As the demonstration approached the corner of Nevsky and Sadova, machine-gun fire was heard. People ran to the sidewalks, but, since the doormen all along the Nevsky had closed the gates, there was nowhere to escape, and the shooting continued. The Nevsky was strewn with the bodies of the demonstrators. At a corner of the Nevsky, a store was located on the basement level. When the machine-gun fire began, we descended a short flight of stairs to the door of the shop, which was closed. Working women disassembled the window pane and, helping each other, got into the shop and ran out through a dark passage into a yard and from there through an alley back again to the Nevsky.

“The streets of Petrograd were running with the blood of workers and soldiers….we buried them in a communal grave.

“When on the morning of July 5, 1917 we returned to our plant, ‘Novi Promet,’ it was as if we did not know our coworkers. During the course of our two-day absence, the Mensheviks and SRs had spread the foul slander that the Bolsheviks were fully responsible for the shooting down of the workers. The atmosphere was tense. When we entered the shop, many working women jumped up and began to throw aluminum nuts with very sharp edges at us. I was taken by surprise and covered my face with my hands, and my attackers kept repeating:

“‘Take that, Bolshevik spy!’

“‘What are you doing? The Bolsheviks gave their lives for the working class and you listen to the Mensheviks and SRS, the murderers of the working class….’

“The working women, seeing my face running with blood, became frightened. Someone brought water, iodine, a towel. The girls from my brigade were in a flood of tears. They told me how the Menshevik Bakasheva and others had set them against the Bolsheviks.

“The wavering of working women became apparent not only in our plant but also in other Petrograd enterprises during the July Days, when counterrevolutionary scum together with the Mensheviks and SRs carried on their filthy persecution of the Bolsheviks. The Mensheviks and SRs had started down the path of open counterrevolution.”

— E. Tarasova, “Pod znamenem Bolshevikov,” in A. Artiukhina et al. (eds.), Zhenshchiny v revoliutsii

In the final weeks before October, the Bolshevik Party made an all-out effort to consolidate the support of the working women and enlist them in the imminent struggle. Party committees held working women’s conferences at which they explained the problems of the party, dispelled the wild rumors which abounded, attacked counterrevolutionary positions and generally tried to raise class-consciousness among the women and draw them into revolutionary activity.

Coinciding with the October Revolution itself was the First All-City Conference of Petrograd Working Women, which was organized by Rabotnitsa and attended by 500 delegates elected by 80,000 working women. A major goal of the conference was to prepare non-party women for the coming uprising and to acquaint them with the program which the new Soviet government would pursue after victory. The women discussed various questions of government and worked out plans for the welfare of mothers.

The conference was temporarily interrupted by the outbreak of the armed uprising which had been under discussion. The delegates recessed in order to participate in the revolutionary struggle along with many other women who bore arms, dug entrenchments, stood guard and nursed the wounded. Afterward Lenin was to say of them:

“In Petrograd, here in Moscow, in cities and industrial centers, and out in the country, proletarian women have stood the test magnificently in the revolution. Without them we should not have won, or just barely won. That is my view. How brave they were, how brave they still are! Just imagine all the sufferings and privations that they bear. And they hold out because they want freedom, communism. Yes, indeed, our proletarian women are magnificent class warriors. They deserve admiration and love….”

— V. I. Lenin, quoted in Fanina W. Halle, Women in Soviet Russia

Few people today, even among those who take a special interest in the history of women, have ever heard of the Russian League of Equal Rights for Women. Yet in the days following the February revolution it was this organization, a branch of  Carrie Chapman Catt’s International Suffrage Alliance, to which feminists in Russia and around the world looked for leadership in the struggle for women’s liberation.

From its headquarters at 20 Znamenskaia Street in Petrograd the League waged an ardent struggle for women’s rights—principally suffrage—through rallies, leaflets, newspaper articles and earnest petitions such as the following:

“Defending the interests of women and maintaining that the realization of peace among the people will be incomplete without the full equality of women and men, the Russian League of Equal Rights for Women appeals to all women of all professions and calls upon them to join the League in order to quickly realize in practice the great idea of complete equality of the sexes before the law.

“In Unity there is Strength.”

Den’, 9 March 1917

On 15 April 1917 the League witnessed the realization of its long-sought goal as the Provisional Government granted all women over the age of 20 the right to participate in Duma elections. Over the next four months additional legislation enabled women to practice law, elect delegates to the forthcoming Constituent Assembly, run for election themselves, hold government posts and vote in all provincial and municipal elections. Social Revolutionary leader Catherine Breshkovskaia (later to be dubbed by Trotsky the “Godmother of the Russian Counterrevolution”) wrote in exultation to the National American Woman Suffrage Association:

“I am happy to say that the ‘Women’s Journal’ can be sure we Russian women have already the rights (over all our country) belonging to all citizens, and the elections which are taking place now, over all our provinces, are performed together by men and women. Neither our government nor our people have a word to say against the woman suffrage.”

— Catherine Breshkovskaia, letter to the National American Woman Suffrage Association, 20 May 1917

It is notable, then, that the victorious Russian League has been relegated to historical near-oblivion, while the Bolshevik Party is universally acknowledged—even by staunch anti-communists—as the instrument by means of which Russian women achieved an unparalleled degree of social equality. And this is as it should be, for in fact the League’s paper victory had virtually no practical significance for the masses of Russian women. Not only did the new equal rights statutes leave untouched the most urgent problems of daily life—such as widespread starvation—but such reforms as were guaranteed were implemented, as in the West, in a purely tokenistic fashion. American newspaper reporter Bessie Beatty, who attended a Provisional Government political convention in Petrograd during this period, noted that of the 1,600 delegates in attendance only 23 were women. Not that women were absent from the proceedings; far from it. Numerous women served tea, caviar and sandwiches, ushered men to their seats, took stenographic notes and counted ballots. “It was so natural,” said Beatty, “that it almost made me homesick.”

Bolshevik Pledge: Full Social Equality for Women

Lenin had pledged that “the first dictatorship of the proletariat will be the pioneer in full social equality for women. It will radically destroy more prejudices than volumes of women’s rights.” With the Soviet seizure of state power and in the very teeth of the bitter struggle against counterrevolution and imperialist intervention the Bolsheviks proved their determination to honor this pledge.

The very first pieces of legislation enacted by the new Soviet government were directed at the emancipation of women in a way which far exceeded the reformist demands of the suffragists. The aim of this legislation was the replacement of the nuclear family as a social/economic unit through the socialization of household labor and the equalization of educational and vocational opportunities. These two goals were key to the undermining of the capitalist social order and to the construction of the new society.

In December 1917 illegitimacy was abolished in law, making fathers, whether married or not, coresponsible for their children and freeing mothers from the burden of a double standard which had punished them for the consequences of shared “mistakes.” Subsequent legislation declared marriage to be a contract between free and equal individuals which could be dissolved at the request of either partner, established hundreds of institutions devoted to the care of mothers and children, legalized abortions, assured equal pay for equal work and opened up unheard of opportunities for women in industry, the professions, the party and government. And this legislation was backed by government action. Thus when Soviet working women, like working women in other countries, began to lose their jobs to soldiers returning from the front, the Petrograd Council of Trade Unions addressed the following appeal to all workers and factory committees:

“The question of how to combat unemployment has come sharply before the unions. In many factories and shops the question is being solved very simply…fire the women and put men in their places. With the transfer of power to the Soviets, the working class is given a chance to reorganize our national economy on a new basis. Does such action correspond with this new basis?… The only effective measure against unemployment is the restoration of the productive powers of the country, reorganization on a socialist basis. During the time of crisis, with the cutting down of workers in factories and shops, we must approach the question of dismissal with the greatest care. We must decide each case individually. There can be no question of whether the worker is a man or a woman, but simply of the degree of need…. Only such an attitude will make it possible for us to retain women in our organization, and prevent a split in the army of workers….”

— Petrograd Council of Trade Unions, April 1918, quoted in Jessica Smith, Women in Soviet Russia

This petition was supported by other unions and government organizations, and mass dismissals of women from Soviet industry were in fact checked. Three years later, during another period of widespread layoffs, the government issued a decree providing that in cases where male and female workers were equally qualified they were to be given equal consideration in retaining their jobs, with the exception that single women with children under one year of age were to be given preference. In the event that such women had to be laid off, their children had the right to continue to attend the factory nursery or kindergarten. It was further stipulated that neither pregnancy nor the fact that a woman was nursing a baby could serve as cause for dismissal, nor was it permitted to dismiss a woman worker during a leave of absence for childbirth.

Surveying the Soviet government’s work among women during its first two years Lenin was able to conclude that:

“A complete Revolution in the legislation affecting women was brought about by the government of the workers in the first months of its existence. The Soviet government has not left a stone unturned of those laws which held women in complete subjection. I speak particularly of the laws which took advantage of the weaker position of woman, leaving her in an unequal and often even degrading position—that is, the laws on divorce and children born out of wedlock, and the right of women to sue the father for the support of the child…. And we may now say with pride and without any exaggeration that outside of Soviet Russia there is not a country in the world where women have been given full equal rights, where women are not in a humiliating position which is felt especially in everyday family life. This was one of our first and most important tasks….

“Certainly laws alone are not enough, and we will not for a minute be satisfied just with decrees. But in the legal field we have done everything required to put women on an equal basis with men, and we have a right to be proud of that. The legal position of women in Soviet Russia is ideal from the point of view of the foremost countries. But we tell ourselves plainly that this is only the beginning.”

— V. I. Lenin, quoted in Jessica Smith, Women in Soviet Russia

Zhenotdel

The transition was not an easy one for women (or for men), particularly in rural areas and in the Muslim East. Appreciating the difficulties which women had to overcome in breaking from reactionary traditions, the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party, although it was caught up in the turmoil of civil war, gave additional impetus to its work among women by calling for an All-Russian Conference of Working Women and Peasant Women to take place in Moscow in November 1918. This conference was preceded by the establishment of a bureau of convocation which sent agitators throughout the country, including frontline regions, to inform women about the forthcoming conference and to facilitate the election of delegates. Given the desperate conditions which prevailed, it was estimated that approximately 300 delegates would attend, but at the opening of the first session on November 16, 1,147 women delegates were seated.

Conference discussions addressed a variety of questions, including the problems of working women in Soviet Russia, the family, welfare, the role of women in the international revolution, organizational problems, the struggle against prostitution in Soviet Russia, the struggle against child labor and the housing question.

While affirming in principle that the struggle for communism and women’s emancipation could succeed only through the united struggle of all sections of the working class and peasantry, and not through the building of an autonomous women’s movement, the delegates also noted that women were often the least conscious elements in these sections and the most in need of special attention. In the light of this approach to special work among women, which had been developed by the German Social Democratic Party and carried forward by the Bolsheviks in the prerevolutionary period, delegates to the conference affirmed the proposal by Bolshevik leaders Inessa Armand and Konkordiia Samoilova that the conference appeal to the party “to organize from among the most active working women of the party special groups for propaganda and agitation among women in order to put the idea of communism into practice.” The Bolsheviks’ response was the creation of a Central Committee commission headed by Armand for work among women. It was succeeded the following year by the Department of Working Women and Peasant Women— Zhenotdel.

Zhenotdel was to become a major vehicle for the recruitment of women to the Bolshevik Party; but its primary purpose was not recruitment but the instruction of non-party women in the utilization of their newly-won rights, the deepening of their political awareness and the winning of their cooperation for the construction of the proletarian state.

While special work among women was carried out by many agencies, Zhenotdel was unique in that it offered women practical political experience. In annual elections women chose their delegates—one for every ten working women or for every hundred peasant women or housewives. These delegates attended classes in reading and writing, government, women’s rights and social welfare, and they took part in the organization of conferences, meetings and interviews designed to arouse the interest of their constituents and draw them into political activity. They were entitled to representation on the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party, and those who were elected to represent Zhenotdel pursued a special program of political education which included reviewing the reports of district committees, co-ops, trade unions and factory directors. Some Zhenotdel delegates became full-time paid functionaries in government institutions or trade unions where they participated directly in the administration of the government.

Zhenotdel carried out extensive propaganda campaigns through its publications. By 1921, it was publishing a special page devoted to women in 74 weekly newspapers. In addition, it published its own weekly bulletin and the monthly journal Kommunistka (The Communist Woman), which had a circulation of 30,000. In addition, Zhenotdel’s literary commission supervised the publication of leaflets and pamphlets dealing with party work among women—over 400,000 pieces of literature during the first six months of 1921 alone.

Finding themselves confronted at every step by the enormous barrier of illiteracy among women, Zhenotdel delegates threw themselves into the work of organizing over 25,000 literacy schools in which they themselves were often the majority of the students. They also set up co-operative workshops for women, organized women who had been laid off from factories and established orphanages and colonies for homeless children.

Within a few years Zhenotdel had succeeded in creating out of the most backward sector of the working class and peasantry an organized, active, politically conscious stratum of women citizens devoted to the Soviet republic. Of these astonishing women delegates the Russian poet Mayakovsky wrote:

“They come

From the machines

From the land and washtubs

Under red kerchiefs

Tucking in the strands,

Hundreds of thousands

Of women-delegates

Chosen

To build and govern.”

— Quoted in V. Lebedeva, “Zabota o materiakh i detiakh,” in A. Artiukhina et al. (eds. Zhenshchina v revoliutsii)

Women Rally to Soviet State

While the Soviet regime had its detractors, even among working women in the major cities, all evidence indicates that the great majority of working women, for whom there could be no going back to the life they had known under the old regime, remained loyal to the government through famine, epidemic and Civil War. Wearing red head bands, women marched through the streets of Petrograd, during its darkest days, singing that although typhus and counterrevolution were everywhere, the world revolution was bound to save them. One woman who spoke for many wrote:

“I am the wife of a Petrograd worker. Earlier I was in no way useful to the working class. I could not work.

“I sat at home, suffocating in the cellar and preparing dinner from garbage which the bourgeoisie had not found fit to eat.

“When working class rule began, l heard the call for us ourselves to rule and build our lives. Well, I thought, how can the generals and their daughters have yielded their places to us? I began to listen….

“They chose me for a Kalachinska District conference. I learned a great deal there. A literacy instructor was assigned to me….

“If life is difficult for us now, all of us will bear it and not one will give the bourgeoisie reason to celebrate that they can again keep all the people in chains. We may suffer for a while, but to our children we will leave an inheritance which neither moth will eat nor rust will corrode. And we shall all support strong soviet rule and the Communist Party.”

—V. Tsurik, Bednota

But the clearest indication of support for the Soviet government was the enthusiasm with which women took up arms against the counterrevolution. Soviet women were members of Red Guard units from the first days of the October Revolution, and they fought side by side with men on every front during the Civil War. Like women in bourgeois countries, they initially volunteered as nurses, with the difference—as Alexandra Kollontai points out—that they regarded the soldiers not merely as “our poor soldier boys,” but as comrades in struggle. Soon, however, they became scouts, engineers of armored trains, cavalry soldiers, communications specialists, machine-gunners and guerrillas. They also took the initiative in forming “stopping detachments,” which captured deserters and persuaded them, whenever possible, to return to their positions. Lenin praised these detachments, saying: “Smash the traitors ruthlessly and put them to shame: Eighty thousand women—this is no trifling military force. Be steadfast in the revolutionary struggle.”

When the fighting ended, an estimated 1,854 women soldiers had been killed or wounded and many more taken prisoner. Sixty-three women were awarded the Order of the Red Banner for military heroism.

The Work Goes Forward

By 1921 it appeared as if a wholly new type of woman was about to make her appearance in Soviet Russia. According to Alexandra Kollontai’s personal ideal, this woman would be self-supporting and would live alone; she would take part in social and political work and would engage freely in sexual love; her meals would be eaten in a communal restaurant; her children would be happy in a state nursery and her home would be cleaned, her laundry done and her clothes mended by state workers. Other communists cherished other visions of the fully emancipated socialist woman, but for all of them the future was full of promise—so much had been accomplished already.

It was too early to know that just ahead lay bitter defeats for Soviet women, for the Soviet working class as a whole and for the international proletarian revolution. The bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet state, which arose in the first instance out of the backwardness, isolation and poverty of post-revolutionary Russia and out of the failure of proletarian revolutions in the technologically advanced countries of Western Europe, constitutes another chapter. The privileged, conservative bureaucratic caste which emerged out of these conditions reversed at will many of the gains which women had achieved through the Revolution: abortion was illegalized; the women’s section of the party was liquidated; coeducation was abolished; divorce was made less accessible; and women were once again encouraged to assume their “natural” tasks of domestic labor and child rearing within the confines of the oppressive family:

But despite these defeats, the lessons of Bolshevik work among women have not been lost to succeeding generations of revolutionists, and the work goes forward. Just as Kollontai pointed out to Bessie Beatty during the first flush of the Soviet victory: “Even if we are conquered, we have done great things. We are breaking the way….”