Tag Archives: Russia

Why Socialism? Didn’t the Collapse of the USSR “Prove” that Socialism Can’t Work?

Why socialism? Didn’t the collapse of the Soviet Union prove that “socialism doesn’t work”?

Lots of people ask us “why socialism”? Haven’t the idea and the ideals of socialism been so corrupted by the crimes of Stalin and Mao and by the sterility and oppression of workers lives under the Stalinist or Maoist or the Juche-inspired North Korean regime as to be utterly discredited and useless as a practical and desirable political programme for any future society?

We’ve discussed this in bits and pieces on Twitter with a handful of individuals and groups of people but have never written anything that explains why we are for socialism and why we are so opposed to capitalism. This essay will attempt to explain where we’re coming from in a more comprehensive way.

We do not want to re-create the horrors of Stalinist Russia or Mao’s China!

First of all we want to make it completely clear that we do not worship or seek to reproduce the horrors of the Stalinist or Maoist or Kim Il-Sung-ist versions of “socialism” at all. This is not only because history shows that those regimes have been led by extremely repressive bureaucratic dictatorships but also because they have proven to lead not to the development of socialism but to a return to capitalism and the brutal capitalist exploitation of the working class. Stalinism and Maoism brutalize the working class into submission to the will of the bureaucracy and betray the workers by ultimately leading them inexorably backwards to the status of capitalist wage-slaves, which is the opposite of what they are supposed to do.

There is also no way that we can deny that – to say the least – the development of post-revolution socialist societies have not “gone according to plan” in the classical Marxist sense. However: it is clear to us that there are pretty obvious and compelling reasons why the Stalinist and Maoist-led revolutionary governments developed in the way that they did; reasons that we trace back to the incredibly oppressive regimes that they emerged from and from the fact that they had no ready-made template of how a socialist society must be built. The Stalinist and Maoist workers states were the first socialist governments that came into being, and they came into being under very difficult circumstances, emerging as they did from the horrible political and economic societies that preceded them. This does not absolve them of their crimes against the working class but it does place their development back into the historical context which pro-capitalist historians like to censor completely from their analysis of the development of the socialist movement. The reason why the pro-capitalist historians do this is obvious: their intention is not to simply tell the truth about how and why these regimes developed in the way that they did; their intention is to convince workers that socialism is a bad idea and that anyone who proposes a socialist alternative to the capitalist system must want to reproduce the horrors of the Stalinist gulags or the Maoist disaster of the Cultural Revolution. The capitalists want their historians to teach you that you live in “the best of all possible worlds” and that if workers try to overthrow the capitalist system you will wind up inevitably worse off than you are now. Basically they want you to believe that the human race has reached the highest possible stage of development possible and that the horrors of human misery we see all over the capitalist world are regrettable but, sadly, unavoidable. This is true: the horrors you see human beings suffering are unavoidable – so long as we stick with the capitalist system. This is the best they can do. We know – and the history of even the bureaucratically deformed workers states created by Mao and Stalin prove to us that socialism does work and it can be made to work way better once it is freed from the straitjacket of repressive and stifling Stalinist/Maoist leadership through a socialist workers political revolution.

Why did the revolutions in Russia and China turn out the way they did?

None of the revolutionary Marxists prior to 1917 expected that a revolutionary socialist workers state would emerge first in the most backward countries; they all believed that they would emerge first in the most advanced capitalist states like Great Britain, Germany or the USA. Instead, the chain of oppressive capitalist regimes broke at its weakest links – Russia and China. This now surprises no one in retrospect, but in 1917 it was quite a shock that the first successful workers revolution occurred not in a modern proletarian capitalist state with long traditions of relatively democratic rule but in Russia, of all places: a hideously backward country with absolutely no history of democratic rule, where the economy was about 80% peasant-based agriculture that functioned at the technical level of the 18th century. If it was possible for the revolutionary Marxists of the time to have been able to select a nation in which to attempt to create the first revolutionary socialist workers state, no one – and we mean absolutely no one! – would have selected Tsarist Russia as their first choice or even as one of their top ten choices. But that is what happened; and if we are to be honest in our analysis of any revolution we must analyze its development as it actually happened and not as we wish it had happened. This requires a lot of specialized study of original historical documents and periodicals that were produced by the leading revolutionaries and their political parties rather than the typically superficial survey of anti-communist “histories” written by pro-capitalist historians which you get if you study these revolutionary movements in pro-capitalist universities. Written history is not politically neutral at all; every historian of the socialist movement (including ourselves) has their own political bias for or against the ideals of the revolutionary socialist movement and the revolutions that were led by revolutionary socialist leaders and their parties. As workers you must decide if you think that it is better for 5% of the world’s population to own all the wealth and run the planet or if it would be better for the future of the world to be determined democratically by the vast majority of the world’s population: you, the workers. There is no tenable position to take in some imaginary middle ground between these two options.

We do not believe that there is any divine metaphysical force directing human destiny; but it is difficult not to get the feeling when studying the history of the Russian Revolution that in 1917 fate dealt the revolutionary socialist movement an extremely tough hand to play when it arranged that the most optimal conditions for the first socialist workers revolution in history would occur, of all places, in the ruins of Tsarist Russia. In our opinion it is proof of the incredible bravery and daring of what stands to this day as the greatest revolutionary socialist party that has yet existed – the Bolshevik Party, led by one of the most honest and brilliant men in human history, Lenin – that they dared to make the attempt to build socialism under what almost all historians agree were the most adverse conditions imaginable. That the Bolsheviks managed to succeed in so many ways despite having made some very serious and costly mistakes – especially in terms of human lives lost – is an enduring testimony to their determination to succeed in building socialism at any cost and to prove that firm foundations for a socialist society could be laid down even under the most adverse conditions. Lenin’s Bolsheviks achieved great successes at the cost of tremendous self-sacrifice among the Bolsheviks and their supporters: thousands of young and idealistic communist workers were slaughtered by the counterrevolutionary Tsarist armies that attempted to restore the monarchy after the revolution. On top of that, the birth pangs of this life-or-death struggle between the remnants of the overthrown Tsarist regime and the peasants and workers government led by the Bolsheviks led to the deaths of several million people. Just as in the American and French revolutions, millions of revolutionary workers and peasants were killed in the fighting to bring a new type of government into existence. And as in the American and French revolutions, the new Bolshevik revolutionary government made some serious errors that added to the human cost; there is no denying this fact. So if in spite of this we still honor and defend the Russian Revolution to this day it is not out of ignorance or because we deny that millions of human beings suffered and died perhaps needlessly due to the inevitable difficulties and struggles that always occur in every revolution – whether it is a bourgeois capitalist revolution like the American and French revolutions or a communist-led one like the Bolshevik revolution – what we must do – and what we as Trotskyists have been doing since the founding of our movement in the late 1920s – is to make a cold, hard, pro-working-class analysis of the reality of what was and was not achieved and what was and was not avoidable during this heroic attempt of the Bolsheviks to create a completely new, modern, democratic socialist workers government under extremely difficult conditions. We study the history of the development of the USSR in all its many-sided aspects both good and bad and draw our honest conclusions from there, regardless of whether or not it “makes the Bolsheviks look bad”. Only through hard work and truthful analysis made always with the historical interests of the working class in mind can we create an intelligent revolutionary socialist programme to create a much better development of human civilization than is possible under the present capitalist system. That is our one and only goal.

Trotskyists defended and still defend the gains of the Russian, Chinese and all the other socialist revolutions; we did not and do not defend everything done by Stalin, Mao, their ideological heirs or their respective repressive regimes.

In spite of the oppressive nature and pro-capitalist betrayals of the Maoist “capitalist roaders” in the so-called “Communist Party” of China, these numbers prove that planned socialist economies can work quite well compared to capitalist economies.

So what are our conclusions? First of all as Trotskyists we know as well as any of Stalin’s many victims what life was like under Stalinism. Members of Trotsky’s Left Opposition were among the first to stand up and vehemently oppose and then to be brutally crushed by the Stalinist bureaucratic apparatus; we have no illusions in respect to the true, monstrous nature of the Stalin regime. The development of Stalinist ideology has at its very foundations the abandonment of the fundamental revolutionary Marxist principle of adherence to revolutionary internationalism. The Stalinists, after having proven conclusively that they were incapable of leading the revolutionary Communist International (“Comintern”) which they inherited, to any successes (due to their undemocratic, bureaucratic schematism which they attempted with massive failure to apply in Germany, China and Spain) concluded, erroneously, that since the workers in other countries were incapable of overthrowing their respective capitalist states, they should abandon the Marxist/Leninist programme of revolutionary internationalism entirely. Instead, the Stalinists decided that the task ahead for the USSR was not to fight for workers revolutions worldwide but to retreat inside the borders of the USSR and to build “socialism in one country” – Russia. They set about to degrade the role of the Comintern from being a powerful engine of world-wide workers revolution to that of forcibly subordinating the communist parties all over the world to defend the right of the USSR to exist in its own limited political and economic sphere independent of the capitalist world. This thoroughly counterrevolutionary about-face led to a series of moves being taken by the Stalinists which ultimately led to the complete dismantling of the Comintern as a “peace offering” to the capitalist world. The Stalinists abandoned that prospect in favor of feathering their own nests and making “peace” with the capitalist world. They sought peace with the Nazis, and when that, too failed, the Stalinists sought to make peace with the “democratic West”: Communist parties around the world subordinated themselves to the “democratic” or “progressive” bourgeoisies of their respective capitalist nation-states and sought to become a nationalistic, reformist political parties just a shade to the left of the parties of the Second International. The Stalinists, in a manner very similar to that of the Second Internationalist political parties who abandoned Marxism to defend “their own” bourgeoisies in WWI, ordered the communist parties of the world to defend “their own” bourgeoisies in the global war to re-divide the world amongst the competing capitalist nation-states in WWII. After the war ended this series of betrayals of the Stalinists led ultimately to the “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude of the late-Stalinist regimes under Gorbachev (a parallel development can be seen in China under Mao with his disgusting rapprochement with the Nixon regime even as US bombs were raining down on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia). The Maoists, who were nothing more than a Chinese version of the Stalinists have followed a similar path, with Mao first drinking toasts to the health of Richard Nixon and US imperialism to his cretinous follower Deng Xiaoping’s declaration that “to be rich is glorious”, which is the motto of today’s thoroughly reactionary and increasingly pro-capitalist Chinese Communist Party. The “Juche Ideal”, promoted by the Stalinists of the DPRK, is just a North Korean version of “building socialism in one country”, only made even more utopian and unattainable due to the tiny size and political and economic isolation of the DPRK from the rest of the world.

What “failed” in the USSR was not the revolutionary socialism of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky but its degenerated, bureaucratized and ultimately counterrevolutionary antipode: Stalinism.

Our analysis of the development and degeneration of the Russian Revolution – from its promising revolutionary Marxist beginnings under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky to its slow and brutal destruction first under Stalin and then under his ideological heirs all the way to the restoration of capitalism in the USSR without so much as a shot being fired by the working class in its defense – is that what we saw with the collapse of the USSR was the complete and total failure – not of socialism – but of Stalinism, which revealed itself to be utterly counterrevolutionary in the final analysis – precisely as Trotsky had analyzed it way back in the 1930s.

The very last thing we intend to do is to follow the paths laid out by Stalin, Mao or any of their epigones: we seek to learn all of the hard-fought and won lessons of all of these revolutions and to incorporate all of the best elements of them into our political program to bring modern socialist workers democracies into being throughout the world that are far more democratic than any bourgeois democracy could ever be. We repudiate and condemn the disgusting show trials conducted by the Stalinists in which innocent people were forced to “confess” to monstrous crimes and were then either executed or sent to a Siberian exile just as brutal as that suffered by the revolutionary workers under the Tsar’s regime. We completely oppose and denounce any attempt to reproduce today the hideous and anti-Marxist Stalinist and Maoist police-state bureaucracies as they existed in the USSR and in China under Mao, for example. We have seen absolute proof of the fundamentally reactionary nature of Stalinist and Maoist political ideology: the Stalinist and Maoist political roads lead, ultimately, back to capitalism.

What about Cuba, Vietnam and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK aka North Korea)?

All of the regimes leading most of the “communist” states in the world: Castroist Cuba, Maoist China, Stalinist Vietnam and (to a lesser extent so far) the Kim Il Sung-ist DPRK– are essentially Stalinist regimes in which the leading “Communist Parties” are thoroughly nationalist and reactionary and are moving the country away from the ideals of socialism and towards the restoration of capitalism. This is a monstrous betrayal of the workers of those countries and a betrayal of the workers of the entire world. Still, we defend the gains of these workers socialist revolutions; and in any war between the capitalist, imperialist powers and these bureaucratically deformed workers states we will defend the workers states and intransigently oppose the imperialist capitalist powers – including the greatest enemy of the US working class, the US capitalist class and their imperialist government. We call on the workers of Cuba, China, Vietnam and the DPRK to begin organizing revolutionary Trotskyist parties so that they can prepare to lead a political revolution that overthrows the Stalinist/Maoist betrayers and places the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat in power. We call on them to simultaneously defend what is left of the socialist economic foundations of those countries and to honor the heroic, revolutionary socialist roots of their respective revolutions. If Stalinism is not overthrown and replaced by a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat then capitalism will be eventually restored in every one of these countries by the counterrevolutionary and corrupt Stalinist/Maoist communist party bureaucrats; it is just a matter of time before they consummate their betrayals of the workers.

North Korea presents a somewhat different case: it alone in the world continues to fight to defend the socialist property forms created as a result of the Korean workers socialist revolution and has also refused to allow any major incursion of capitalism into the DPRK (though even there the leadership has allowed the capitalists of South Korea to make their first tentative inroads towards capitalist development). Only the murderous belligerence of the US Government, which seeks to place the DPRK on the capitalist road a la China and Vietnam, keeps the North Korean Stalinists from consummating a Gorbachevite betrayal of the workers of the DPRK. By abandoning revolutionary Marxist/Leninist internationalism in favor of the nationalist “Juche Ideals” of Kim Il Sung, the bureaucrats of the DPRK are clearly, if only semi-consciously, laying the groundwork for eventual capitalist restoration in the DPRK.

The capitalist system has long outlived its usefulness and has become the primary obstacle to the future progress of the human race.

We believe that the capitalist system has long outlived its usefulness and can now only lead the world through an endless series of boom-and-bust cycles punctuated by small and large wars, culminating most likely in another global conflagration: a nuclear world war. Preventing the capitalist system’s wanton destruction of hundreds of millions of workers’ lives and the global environment is impossible under a capitalist system that is based on competing capitalist nation-states. So long as the capitalist system exists there will continue to be racism, environmental destruction, poverty, starvation, unemployment, religious bigotry, the oppression of women, discrimination against national minorities and war. Only the organization of the entire world into co-operative socialist workers states can begin to unite the workers of the entire world in the global efforts that are absolutely necessary if we are to stop the destruction of the lives of our working-class brothers and sisters all over the world and the continued destruction of the planet’s environmental treasures. Only under a rationally planned global socialist economic system can we undertake the enormously expensive necessary steps to reverse the ravages our planet has suffered under the destructive anarchy of capitalist exploitation of the world’s natural resources.

The capitalists care about one thing and one thing only: money. Human beings are worth nothing to them; in their money-mad minds the natural resources of our planet exist simply to enable them to get even more money. They pursue the acquisition of wealth with a vicious, pathological persistence that places their own selfish personal interests above that of the entire population of the world and even above what is necessary to maintain the continued existence of human beings on this planet. We are not exaggerating one bit when we say: “Capitalism must die so that the planet and the working class may live”.

Fortunately we do not have to invent an entirely new political philosophy to find our way forward in this critically important juncture of the development of human civilization; the program of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky will serve us well as the basis of our own modern revolutionary socialist programme. We base our party on our firm belief that all workers all over the world are our sisters and brothers; we want to unite all workers to work together internationally to make life easier for human beings to live and thrive while we simultaneously protect our shared planet, its environment and all our fellow creatures who live on it. All the capitalists are promising us today is that our lives are going to get harder and harder; there is literally no future worth living for the working class under the capitalist system.

The main problem with capitalism is that it is fundamentally anarchic and purely profit-driven: there is no way under capitalism to develop a rational plan for the protection and restoration of the global environment, for example, because it is more profitable for the capitalists to invest in projects that exploit natural resources by destroying the environment than it is to develop them while simultaneously protecting the environment. Only after the insane supremacy of the profit motive is overthrown once and for all can we even begin to undertake scientific studies to determine how bad the damage has been which the capitalists have done to our planet: their pathological love for money over all else drives them to poison the scientific wells with bogus scientific studies that make science-based inquiry practically impossible. We have seen this with their creation of the global-warming-denialist movement. The human race can not move forward an inch until we rid ourselves of these noxious, murderous capitalist pests who subordinate the interests of the entire planet to their own personal lust for more and more money!

How would life under socialism be better for the workers?

A socialist world would make possible for the first time the ability of the human race to seize control of human destiny by overthrowing the lust for profits and replacing it with a rationally planned economic system in which all production is subordinated to the needs of the entire human race as well as the environment which sustains us. Under socialism we would be able to do something the capitalist world has never been able to do and which it is impossible to do under capitalism: to not just merely reduce but to eliminate the scourges of starvation, homelessness and disease that are crippling the creative potential of the entire human race. In socialist countries they have always been able to begin to end homelessness on the very first day after the overthrow of capitalism simply by making it illegal to deny people the right to housing. They did this by immediately placing homeless people in unoccupied apartments, houses and hotel rooms! That is impossible under capitalism, where housing is not a right but a privilege granted (or denied) to workers at the whim of the capitalist landlords and bankers. In the “democratic” USA, we have the “right to the pursuit of happiness” – but we do not have the right to actually achieve it by guaranteeing to everyone access to all the things that enable a person to be happy, regardless of race, creed, color, sex, sexuality or ability to pay… “little things” like jobs, food, clothing, shelter and health care! Under socialism all those things that are necessary to create human happiness will be guaranteed to all.

We can free the working people from the debasing need to endlessly pursue money for basic survival and to guarantee all the necessities of life to each and every human being on this planet, so that every human being on Earth can enjoy their lives to the fullest, not just the wealthiest 10%. Under capitalism, workers are forced to endlessly chase after dollar bills, like a horde of desperate idiots. The constant struggle for basic human needs which workers are faced to suffer through is an enormous waste of human creative potential. Instead of “pursuing happiness” we must pursue the money for food, clothing, shelter and medical care, competing like animals against all the other workers for jobs while the capitalist class sits there in luxury, laughing at us all the way to the bank. Under socialism we can put an end to the struggle for survival for the first time for the entire human race through a rationally planned economy.

What would rational planning be? For example: a socialist workers government would guarantee all able-bodied workers a job so they could contribute to the building of a prosperous society for everyone. If, for some reason you were laid off, you would receive 100% of the pay you received while you were working, so your standard of living would not suffer. Since housing and health care would be guaranteed as a fundamental right, the loss of your job would not mean the loss of health care for you and your family; nor would it mean that you would be facing eviction from your home! This is impossible to do under the capitalist system! These goals are not utopian, they are eminently reasonable and realizable with the technology and the productive capacity we have at hand today.

Capitalism IS the problem!

The only thing stopping us from achieving these goals is the capitalist system that will not and can not end the scourges of unemployment, homelessness, starvation and disease because – it is not “profitable” for the capitalists to do so! Every day we continue to allow the numerically tiny, greed-maddened capitalist class to dominate our lives is another day in which thousands of workers will be thrown out of their jobs for no fault of their own; it is another day in which thousands of children will suffer hunger and chronic illness and die of starvation and preventable disease; it is another day where tens of thousands of our sisters and brothers will die for lack of basic medical services; it is another day in which millions of our children will not have the opportunity to attend a school, see a doctor, or get anything to eat at all. As workers of the world we have it in our power right now to put an end to all this needless suffering endemic to the capitalist system!

What can we as workers do to put an end to the misery we suffer under capitalism and start fighting for socialism?

We can put an end to it only by organizing revolutionary socialist workers parties dedicated to the overthrowing of the capitalist system and to replacing it with egalitarian democratic socialist workers governments. Every day we wait brings us one day closer to environmental catastrophe and very likely it brings us one day closer to the next global world war. We must snap ourselves out of the dull-minded, passive stupor we’ve had drilled into our minds by the capitalist entertainment and infotainment propaganda that has convinced too many of us that the capitalist world is “the best of all possible worlds”! If we want our children to live better, more fulfilling lives we must fight for that future, because it will not be given to us by a capitalist class that seeks only to figure out how they can put more of our hard-earned money into their bank accounts! The working class makes up the vast majority of the world’s population and has the right to determine how and by whom this planet will be governed. Why do we allow the top 5% of the world’s population to run the planet and to seize more than half of the world’s wealth? Workers of the world, it is time to wake up and unite to fight for your rights and to shatter the chains that bind us to a system that robs us blind, destroys the planet we live on and promises our children a future of wars over water, land and natural resources! The revolution will not happen on the Internet; it must be brought into existence by organizing revolutionary socialist workers parties to fight to bring a much better future into existence. It is time to shake off your passivity and join in this work before it is too late, for the sake of your own and your children’s and grand-children’s futures! We can’t do it for you or without you!

Capitalism must die so that the planet and the working class may live!”

IWPCHI

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DEFEND UKRAINE! DEFEAT RUSSIAN IMPERIALISM! SMASH FASCISM: FOR WORKERS SOCIALIST REVOLUTION IN UKRAINE! US/EU/UN/NATO HANDS OFF UKRAINE!

Well, that was easy!  Yes, writing that headline was quite straightforward; over the past few days, the political formulae fell into place as we watched the ominous events unfold on the Crimean peninsula.

So what does it all mean?  “Defend Ukraine”?  But the Ukrainian government is teeming with rabid Ukrainian nationalists and outright fascist scum!  “Defeat Russian Imperialism”? Isn’t that the slogan of the US/EU/NATO/UN brigands who you want to keep their “hands off the Ukraine”?  Is Russia an imperialist country?  Aren’t there still many in the Russian government and military who honor the USSR?  And aren’t the Russians moving into the Ukraine because they are upset at seeing Ukrainian fascists tearing down statues of Lenin and beating up Russian-speaking Ukrainians?  Aren’t the Russians standing up against the fascists by defending the memories of the heroic Red Army soldiers who kicked Hitler’s Nazis out of the Ukraine and sent them back to a fiery and well-deserved death in Berlin?

The main crisis facing the revolutionary workers movement of today is the crisis of leadership!

We are not Marxist theoreticians of the calibre of Lenin and Trotsky – not by a long shot.  But we should have learned enough Marxism to take a crack at parsing this not very complicated political question posed in Ukraine.  (By comparison, the war in Syria is much more complicated). A socialist party should be composed of worker-militants every one of which can step forward at any time and lead the party in a revolutionary Marxist manner in a time of crisis.  The idea that some “great leader” must arise before the working class can even begin to take a step forward is commonly-held… hogwash!  The purpose of a revolutionary Trotskyist party is not to elevate a handful of “infallible leaders” to a ridiculously lofty position above the entire population of the world.  We have seen far too much of that kind of political ladder-climbing in the past century and a half!  Most of the once-revered “great leaders” turn out to have been not at all great – in fact they were downright repulsive when you look at them up close.  There have been notable exceptions, all of whom have been slandered and whose names have been traduced – even by honest working men and women, in the most shameless fashion  – Lenin and Trotsky to name two of the greatest; but for a successful workers revolution to take place it must have, not leaders who seek some day to have monumental sculptures erected in their honor in public squares everywhere, but humble fighters who dedicate their lives to the struggle for the emancipation of the working class worldwide and who seek no personal glory or fame whatever.  Marx, Engels, Liebknecht, Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky were men and women of this type.  They all earned their honors through their lifelong, selfless work on behalf of the working class and peasantry all over the world; as great as they were even they made mistakes – some very serious.  They were not afraid to make mistakes, and they never pretended that they were infallible; and when they made mistakes, they frankly admitted them, corrected themselves publicly and renewed their journey on the new path.  We too will make mistakes and we are not afraid to admit that; we hope that we will be able to honor our illustrious predecesors, if not by achieving the level of their brilliant theoretical work, then at least in their fundamental honesty..  We do not have all the answers to all the world’s questions in a trophy case in our offices; nor will we find answers to all the world’s future problems in the century-plus-old writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky.  They proved their mettle and their intelligence and the overall correctness of their political leadership through battle after battle – and to victory over Tsarism.  No socialist in the US has ever led such battles as they did.  Revolutionary Trotskyists do not seek personal glory and immortality, we are seeking the emancipation of the world’s toilers from capitalist wage-slavery!  And in the case of the crisis in the Ukraine, we must determine, not the path to the most widespread popularity through flattery and lies, but the most promising political road for the workers in the US, Ukraine and Russia and the rest of the world to follow in the long term – a path on which every single step taken by the working class of all these countries, working in closest revolutionary internationalist co-operation, will blaze a trail towards the victory of the workers and peasants of the world over capitalism!  We must find that political road to follow along which the workers movement of the world will surge forward, smashing fascism, racism, imperialism along the way, blocking every attempt made by the capitalists to pit worker against worker in predatory wars  and avoiding all the many other snares being constantly set before the revolutionary socialist workers movement.  THAT is what we have tried to do with these slogans.  As heroic whistleblower Edward Snowden told an interviewer last month when he was asked “Why did you do this?”: “It was the creeping realization that no one else was going to do this.”  That is why we formed this party: because the United States doesn’t have a revolutionary Trotskyist party worth a damn, sadly.  There are parties out there, but they have proven to be absolutely incapable of inspiring the workers of the United States with the majesty of the original Marxist ideal: to create a world where the exploitation of man by man no longer exists.  Where war, poverty, homelessness, and needless human suffering is relegated to “the dustbin of history”.  So here we are, suddenly become “Marxist theoreticians”!  Somebody’s got to do it; and anyone CAN do it who has studied and learned the lessons of the great workers revolutions of the 20th century and who believes, as we do, in spite of all the disasters that have befallen the Marxist movement in the past 100 years of its “success”.  While it may be true that all the edifices that have been built so far by Marxist construction workers (utilizing tools and methods that had never been utilized in the real world before!) have proven for the most part to have been poorly built and faulty, we have examined the blueprints and find that it was not the original architects of Marxism/Leninism that failed, but its construction superintendents.  We can and must do better – either that or we can just count the days until the capitalist greedheads launch WWIII.  Sitting around wringing hands will accomplish nothing; begging the capitalists’ bought-and-paid-for politicians to “do the right thing” is a waste of time.  The working class must produce Marxist leaders who, learning from all the errors and tragedies and betrayals committed by our predecessors, will do the job RIGHT this time!  It CAN BE and it MUST BE done!

“The workers of the world have no country” so long as they live under the wage-slavery system of capitalism.  This law of Marxism – which was written before the great proletarian victories in Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba and Vietnam – is the formula that the revolutionary socialist workers movement raises upon its banners in order to destroy nationalism and petty national chauvinism, and to unite all the workers of the planet as the sisters and brothers that we truly are.   Revolutionary socialists, if they are truly Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist – do not rally to the national flag of any capitalist state.  Marxists seek to overthrow “their” bourgeoisie, who are the true “owners” of every capitalist country.  In the US, this means that we do not support the US military, no matter where they go and no matter what they do, because we realize that the US troops – though they include our own sons, daughters, brothers and sisters – do not answer OUR orders, but instead answer the orders given by our mortal enemies: the US capitalist class, the  US billionaires, in whose service our children and grandchildren have been either economically drafted into the military or  forced to enlist.  The American capitalists and their counterparts in every other capitalist nation-state use THEIR military forces, not to benefit the workers here or anywhere else, but to DEFEND THEIR INVESTMENTS, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC!  The US imperialist capitalist class doesn’t give a shit about “the rights of the Ukrainian people” any more than they care about the rights of any other group of workers anywhere, including the United States!  All the US capitalists see in the Ukraine are raw materials, land and an exploitable workforce, which, if it was in the hands of the US capitalist class, would be filling the US billionaires’ vaults with even more money instead of all that wealth going to their economic and political counterparts in Putin’s Russia.

So, it is the duty of revolutionary Marxists in the US and Russia to say: “down with our ‘own’ bourgeoisie and its government and military!”  That means we as revolutionary workers in the US give not one iota of support to the US capitalist military killing machine that is using OUR CHILDREN to murder our SISTERS’ AND BROTHERS’ CHILDREN all over the world!  We want to rip the military forces of the world out of the hands of the capitalist classes of the world and place them “under new management”: the revolutionary working class!  And so, in the Ukraine we say: DEFEAT RUSSIAN IMPERIALISM! and we call on revolutionary Marxists in Russia and the Ukraine to say the same thing!  We say to “our” bourgeoisie: “US/EU/NATO/UN HANDS OFF THE UKRAINE!” because we KNOW that the US and European capitalists are all too willing to engage in the bloody slaughter of our Russian and Ukrainian brothers and sisters in order to seize the raw materials in those countries and to enslave the survivors of the war, placing the workers of Russia and the Ukraine into vassalage under the greedy capitalists of the US and western Europe!  This longstanding Marxist/Leninist policy is called “revolutionary defeatism”: it is very unpopular while the workers of the world are still under the spell of nationalism and while they still reflexively salute the flag of their capitalist masters and slavishly “rush to the colors” whenever the capitalists see an opportunity to seize some new territory, and enroll the workers of their respective nations to slaughter their brother and sister workers in every other nation!

To our Ukrainian brothers and sisters we offer the hand of friendship by opposing the Russian imperialists’ intervention into the Ukraine in search of  raw materials, profits, and to secure the markets for Russian goods that exist in the Ukraine.  But we do not hold out the hand of fraternal friendship to the Ukrainian fascists, whose racism and vicious nationalism, whose anti-Semitism and love for Nazi war criminals like Bandera places them outside of human civilization! So we say to the Ukrainian workers: yes! we will fight side by side with you against the Russian imperialists: but we will not have fascists in the ranks of the revolutionary socialist workers!  Drive the Nazis out of your organizations!  “SMASH FASCISM! FOR WORKERS SOCIALIST REVOLUTION IN THE UKRAINE!”

“For workers socialist revolution in the Ukraine”? YES!  This is the only real solution to the economic and social crisis in the Ukraine; capitalism not only has no solution to the problems of unemployment, poverty and war, it is the chief cause of all these things.  Only when the greed-based system of capitalism is overthrown and replaced with an egalitarian, democratically-run socialist workers republic can workers finally be freed from the endless struggle for survival that characterizes life under capitalism.  Ukrainian nationalism has no solutions for the economic crises facing Ukraine: on the contrary: their “Ukraine for the Ukrainians” nonsense and their “Ukraine uber alles” philosophy would serve to cut Ukraine off from the rest of the world economically and politically and would exacerbate the economic hardships facing Ukrainians.  The Bandera-worshipping Ukrainian fascists would turn the Ukraine into an ethnic cleansing zone, pitting workers of different nationalities against each other in a fratricidal bloodbath.  Marxism, which recognizes the scientific fact that every human being on this planet is actually a “long=lost-relative” of every other human being on the planet, and which seeks to unify the working class population worldwide is the ONLY political philosophy that makes sense in a globally interconnected world.  SMASH FASCISM!  WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!

UPDATED: Transcript of NASA 15 February Teleconference on Russian “tiny asteroid” Explosion

[This article is under construction.  We’ll complete it later today eventually; it will hopefully, even in this partially completed form,  answer some questions our readers might have regarding the spectacular explosion of a “tiny asteroid” over Chelyabinsk, Russia yesterday.   The transcript was produced by us from the audio recording; all errors are ours.  UPDATE:  For more information:

This website is the online repository for the conference taking place in Vienna, Austria this week that is discussing future plans to discover, track and possibly intercept Near-Earth Objects, which is mentioned in the teleconference transcript below.  Love the name of this UN program…  the tinfoil-hat crowd will go crazy over this!  And it sounds like a double- or triple- entendre from a James Bond movie; you should always wink and wiggle your eyebrows when you say the name of this UN agency:

UN Office for Outer Space Affairs – Scientific and Technical Subcommittee: 2013 – Fiftieth Session – 11-22 February 2013

– IWPCHI]

[Later on the 15th, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory issued the following update on the Russian meteorite explosion:

Update: February 15, 2013 7pm PST

New information provided by a worldwide network of sensors has allowed scientists to refine their estimates for the size of the object that entered that atmosphere and disintegrated in the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia, at 7:20:26 p.m. PST, or 10:20:26 p.m. EST on Feb. 14 (3:20:26 UTC on Feb. 15).

The estimated size of the object, prior to entering Earth’s atmosphere, has been revised upward from 49 feet (15 meters) to 55 feet (17 meters), and its estimated mass has increased from 7,000 to 10,000 tons. Also, the estimate for energy released during the event has increased by 30 kilotons to nearly 500 kilotons of energy released. These new estimates were generated using new data that had been collected by five additional infrasound stations located around the world – the first recording of the event being in Alaska, over 6,500 kilometers away from Chelyabinsk. The infrasound data indicates that the event, from atmospheric entry to the meteor’s airborne disintegration took 32.5 seconds. The calculations using the infrasound data were performed by Peter Brown at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

“We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years on average,” said Paul Chodas of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “When you have a fireball of this size we would expect a large number of meteorites to reach the surface and in this case there were probably some large ones.”

The trajectory of the Russia meteor was significantly different than the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, which hours later made its flyby of Earth, making it a completely unrelated object. The Russia meteor is the largest reported since 1908, when a meteor hit Tunguska, Siberia.

[Source: JPL/NASA, http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-061%5D

We have also come across a white paper published in August of 2012 [actually, it was published in 2009; we were misled by the name of the .pdf file – IWPCHI] by the “Committee to Review Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies, National Research Council”, entitled:  “Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Interim Report”.  In it . you can immediately see that the US effort is being wrong-headedly directed by the US capitalist class’ bought-and-paid-for ignoramuses in the US Congress at only larger asteroids.  They plan to “phase in” technology in future decades that could detect smaller asteroids, but so far their plans would not include any attempts to detect objects of the size of the one that exploded over Chelyabinsk on 15 February 2013.  Unless something is “profitable” in the eyes of the greedy capitalist class, it will not receive funding, or will receive the bare minimum necessary to cover the politicians’ butts.  Our assertion is that the defense of the planet from NEOs is far too important to be left up to the capitalist class and their penny-pinching “bottom-line” “what’s in it for us?” stupidity.  Unless we abolish the capitalist system, we will almost assuredly have to suffer a major calamity many times worse than the Chelyabinsk explosion before the greeedhead capitalists find the defense of Earth from NEOs to be within the range of affordability”.   Sticking with the capitalist system basically condemns the inhabitants of the planet to inevitable multiple natural disasters due to the inherent inability of a greed-based economic system to properly place global needs over those of the competing nation-states and their eternally warring capitalist castes seeking to increase their personal wealth at the expense of billions of their fellow men – and even their own children and grand-children.  The sad fact is: they just don’t care about anything except filling their own personal bank accounts with as much money as they can, for as long as they can.  The longer we allow them to continue to run the world as if it was their own personal piggy bank, the greater the calamity that mankind will have to face as a result.   The overthrow of the capitalist system and its replacement with an egalitarian, global, socialist economic model, we believe, is a prerequisite to the continued existence of the human race here on planet Earth, which is continually imperiled by the never-ending competition between capitalist nation-states, leading to low-level conflicts that grow into global ones, threatening the man-made disaster of worldwide nuclear war.  The future can move in two basic directions: toward international cooperation of egalitarian socialist workers republics or towards world war III.  We know which outcome we would prefer; “all we have to do” is give up our allegiance to the personal greed-based system of capitalism.  It’s a small price to pay in order to ensure the continued existence of the human race.  Workers of the World, Unite!

IWPCHI

****************************************************

“What a day for near-Earth objects!”

That comment, made during a teleconference held on the afternoon of 15 February, 2013 by NASA scientists  – who had intended to be discussing a close fly-by of asteroid 2012 DA14, but who ended up talking about an actual impact on Earth of a previously unobserved mini-asteroid coming from the other direction – perfectly summed up the feelings of everyone in the audience.

These are our notes and a partial transcript of the news conference held yesterday afternoon, US Central Time, by NASA.  Thanks to NASA and its scientists for this timely clarification as to the nature of the amazing event in Chelyabinsk yesterday.  The names of the participants in the press conference are spelled phonetically and are undoubtedly WRONG in many cases; we haven’t had time to go look up everyone’s names yet. – IWPCHI

***

http://www.nasa.gov/news/media/newsaudio/index.html

NASA News Audio Live Streaming

LIVE NOW: NASA Experts Discuss Russia Meteor in Media Teleconference

Scientists have determined the Russia meteor is not related to asteroid 2012 DA14 that will pass safely pass Earth today at a distance of more than 17,000 miles. Early assessments of the Russia meteor indicate it was about one-third the size of 2012 DA14 and traveling in a different direction.

Panelists for the teleconference are:
— [Dr.]Bill Cooke, lead for the Meteoroid Environments Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
— [Dr.]Paul Chodas, research scientist in the Near Earth Object Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Notes:

Bill Cooke:  Okay; my comments are gonna be with regard to the Russian meteor over, uh, Chelyabinsk – I’ll get it right in a minute – Russia that occurred approximately
9:20AM Russian time this morning.  What we know is at this time is as follows: a rock – a small asteroid or large meteoroid, depending on how you want to define it – entered the atmosphere.  This rock was about 15 meters in diameter, and was a weight of about 7000 metric tons;  It was moving at 18km per second.  And for those of you who deal with normal units that’s about 40,000 miles per hour. So it hit the atmosphere above Russia moving at that speed; it penetrated at a shallow angle less than 20 degrees; it lasted over 30 seconds in our atmosphere before breaking apart about 20-25 kilometers – which is 12-15 miles – above Earth’s surface.  When it broke apart, this produced a violent explosion, and there may have been several smaller events as well.  In the vicinity of 300 kilotons of energy, which produced a shock wave which propagated down as well as through the atmosphere; and when it propagated down this shock wave struck the city below, causing large numbers of windows to be broken, some walls to collapse and  minor damage throughout the city.  So, when you hear about injuries, those are undoubtedly due to the effects of the shock wave striking the city and causing walls to collapse and glass to fly, not due to fragments striking the ground.  There are undoubtedly fragments on the ground but as of this time I know of no fragments that have been recovered that we can verify with certainty.

A preliminary orbit for this object indicates it originated in the asteroid belt with a farthest distance from the Sun about two and a half times Earth’s distance and it does appear to be an asteroid in nature.

We are asked the question: “Well, why wasn’t it detected before?” And, based on this preliminary orbit,  the reason it wasn’t detected by telescopes on Earth was because it literally came out of the “day side” of our planet.  It was in the daylight sky; and as you know telescopes can’t see things in the day time.  So this object came out of the daylight sky, and as a result was not detected by any Earth-based telescopes.  So, that’s what we know at this time, and I’m gonna pass it over to Paul Chodas and let him talk about the asteroid 2012 DA-14 plus anything he might care to add about this event over Russia this morning.

Chodas:  Well, good afternoon. What an amazing day for near-Earth objects!  By an incredible coincidence we have two rare events happening on this very same day, with asteroid 2012 DA-14 passing very close to the Earth for an asteroid of that size (150 meters or a half-a-football-field in size); AND we have a small, 15-meter object – which I would call a tiny asteroid – actually hitting the Earth at a shallow angle and creating a significant explosion.  This is the largest recorded event since the Tunguska explosion in 1908.  This was very large for a meteor, a meteorite hit or fireball.

But let me talk a little bit about the DA-14.  It has already passed close approach; we are continuing to track it; in fact, I believe we have a live feed from this La Sagra Observatory, which is the place where it was discovered just about a year ago.  So we can see the object on the screen, as you can see right now; it’s moving; it’s a little streak because of the exposure that’s being taken; and it’s moving quite rapidly for an asteroid.  This is very unusual.  And the reason for that is that it’s passing so close to the Earth.  And it is passing the Earth at 17,500 miles an hour, but it’s on its way out now.

I should mention that USTREAM TV, USTREAM dot TV slash NASA dot JPL. JPL 2, excuse me.  So that’s where you can take a look and see a live shot of the asteroid.  The asteroid has passed the Earth, it’s on its way out, and it won’t return this close for many, many years.

Regarding the Russian explosion: there was a shock wave.  Why is there a shock wave from something coming in like this?  I have to say: an asteroid… asteroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere at a tremendous speed: 40,000 miles per hour, which, by the way, is actually much faster than the DA-14 is passing the Earth.  It’s an incredible speed; and in order for the tiny asteroid to slow down, the atmosphere will absorb that energy, O.K.?  So that it’s emitting the energy as heat and it’s emitting the energy as light.  The event must have been brighter than the Sun, if you were there to watch it.  It’s just incredible.  Asteroids… tiny asteroids the size of this one that hit over Russia this morning hit the Earth on average about once every hundred years.  So as you can see, the last recorded one that was of this size was a 1908, Tunguska explosion.  These are rare events  and its an incredible coincidence to have them happening on the same day; the Russians’ event – the fireball – is not related to the DA-14 asteroid in any way.  And that’s the end of my report.

Media questions:

Leonard Davis:  Space.com/Aerospace America; everybody calls this a wakeup call, what action should be taken by the Congress?

Paul Chodas: These are rare events, once every 100 years; I would say asteroid that hit over Russia was a very tiny asteroid; one like this from daystime sky virtual impossible to detect; NASA knows about 95% of asteroids but tiny ones like this are very hard to find

NBC News:  (Alan Boyle?)  DA14: On basis of observations that have come in is there anything new to say about this asteroid or is it what you expected?

It is too early to say; brightness profile close to estimates; most important immediate data Goldstone [radar?] measurements; [we hope to] release a picture of the asteroid tomorrow.

[Brian Asab] Wash Post: Paul; Colleagues in Vienna [meeting today] talking about international cooperation on international deflection efforts;

Paul: Yes there is meeting, this is international problem that has international implications; if asteroid hit it could hit anywhere; could we deflect? These questions being asked.  These are questions being addressed on intl stage.

Mariam Kramer Space.com:  How this blast ovr russia compares to Indonesia 2009?  How long trail from meteor over Russia was?

Bill:  The blast over Russia 4-5 times more powerful than Indonesia maybe more.  Meteor was abt 30 seconds, 10/mps, trail 300 miles long.

Irene Klaz Reuters;  When you said [an object the size of the] meteor over Russia could be found; what about if there was any observatory that could sense infrared was it too small to be detected by that?  If Congress says “what could we do about that” what would you say?

Paul: This object… IR detections from space is an option to detect these objects…

Bill:  NASA has recognized that asteroids that meteoroids and asteroid debris pose much greater problem than was previously thought.

Peter Speck, Christian Sci Monitor:: Paul; how do you work backwards from observation of event to estimate of size and mass; what was composition of this?

Paul:  The fact it broke up gives us some information on [the] composition; probably not iron-nickel like Chikoti-Malin 1947 over USSR

The principal source of info is by infrasound detectors on ground which measure pressure waves; give rough idea of amt of energy released.

Bill Harwood, CBS News;  What is infrasound network?

Bill: was established to monitor for nuclear explosions [after international] ban of surface explosions.  Detect big explosions in atmos; 300 kilotons, this is similar to nuke explosion in magnitude.

Naomi Sect, AFP: Can you sketch trajectory?

Bill:  Asteroid over Russia orbit indicates 2.1 yrs to go around sun once; out at farthest dist from Sun 1 yr ago in main belt 1 yr ago.

Paul: It was in orbit that crossed Earth’s orbit.  Asteroid belt is source of near-earth objects.  The asteroid belt would have formed a planet but large planets like Jupiter kept asteroid belt from forming [into] planet.

Leo Enreid, Irish TV;  Shock wave: was this “the shock heard ’round the world”? Was it a shock picked up by infrasound networks at great distances around world?  I heard 5 maybe 6 distinct explosions  I’ve heard about things like “pancaking”, what could have cause 5 or 6 distinct explosions?

Bill: As far as to 4 infrasound stations detections; haven’t polled all the infrasound stations; Early data from 4 infr stations nearest to event, whether it was heard on all we dont know

Paul:  I believe that [what happens is that the] atmosphere protects us so it disrupts asteroid as it comes in, divides [it] into multiple meteor[ites] so that is one possible source of multiple shock waves

Bill Dennison 21st Century Science and Technology:

Is there discussion of operation to defend planet?  Not looking for objects this small?

Russian Deputy Prime Minister responded to event by saying that the US and Russia should cooperate to stop impacts like this happening

Paul: Defending Earth from objects like this one is challenging, not currently our goal.  NASA is not looking 4 these; even DA14 is [borderline] too small for NASA search at this time;  In order to defend earth, the problem there would be to find these things early enough to do something; even though smaller ones [like this one are] easier to divert they are harder to detect; we are focusing on larger asteroids first, they are most hazardous.  One today was moderate destructive power.

Roxanne Palmer, Intl Business Times:  Is this just coincidence that these happen in Russia or is it because [Russia has] such a large land mass?

Paul: You hit the nail on the head, Russia is a large landmass, Tunguska, 1908, Malin 1947, and [again] today it is an amazing coincidence.

Ken Chang, NY Times;

Number of asteroids weight-wise per year?

Bill: 80 tons of meteoritic material per day; millions of very small meteors striking earth per day, big ones like this every 50-100 yrs

Paul: Small objects of basketball size every day, car-sized every month or two.

Paul Fraze , The Verge:  When it comes to detect an object like the one today, you require spacecraft we don’t have currently orbiting right now.  Private companies say they can do a better job of detecting.  Is private sector something you look to to do this?

Paul: Im not personally involved in these private efforts, they have potential, but funding is a question, an issue to discuss.  As far as getting resources from asteroids, is that viable? I can’t really speak to that.

Q: In spite of it being small, it caused a lot of damage on ground, so for purposes of detecting, not mining, the smaller size objects, what would the spacecraft need to be in order to pick up these things in terms of detection?  Is there any role private ssector could play?

Paul: I cant really speak to, its a challenging problem to find [something the size of] DA14 let alone the one over Ural Mountains.

Q: What kind of craft would be necessary?

Paul:  I believe a good way is to search for them in infrared, I can’t say what is the best way, [if you]call me later [we could discuss this in more detail].

Carolyn Johnson, Bost Globe:  [I just came in to the conference so this may have been answered already:] How much energy was released [in the explosion over Russia]? What would happen if something like this exploded over a densely populated area?

Bill: It was 300… I’m getting estimates now that it was up to 500 kilotons and it WAS over densely pop city.. 12 to 15 miles above ground

Jackie Goddard, Times of London;  Clarify 95% of meteors detected that have come through vs total number of meteors out there?  Is there an official search for this [Russian] object?

Paul:  When we talk of 95% completion rate Spaceguard Survey has been going on for 15 years, our original goal was to find 90% we have found 95% of large asteroids.  Near-Earth objects [are not objects that are going to hit the earth], [their orbits take them through the inner solar system as close as] 1.3 times the Earth’s distance to the Sun.

When we talk about near-Earth objects they are not all headed toward Earth.  “There are no asteroids that we know of that are headed towards the Earth for certain.”

Bill:  This meteor was not an iron meteor, it was a stony.  Its not a Martian meteorite, my guess this would be stony meteorite, maybe a chondrite, but we dont have the info to say what type this was, it’as probably going to be common, stony meteorite, 95% of meteorites found are common stony [type]

Andy Shostak ELS; How do you know there’s no relationship between DA 14 and the one that hit Earth today?

Paul: [In the event in Russia today] direction of approach was north-to-south [as best as we can tell from watching the videos] from YouTube; velocity was much greater than DA14.  [Russian meteorite] orbit was from asteroid belt; DA14 orbit is very Earth-like, orbits are very different.

[Source: NASA, USTREAM, http://www.nasa.gov/news/media/newsaudio/index.html%5D