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10 years after 1989

1st December 1999 Socialist Action 0

First published: December 1999

Ten years after 1989, the consequences of the re-introduction of capitalism into Eastern Europe are clear and acknowledged even by some of the international agencies which sponsored the process.

The World Bank reports in its 1999 World Development Indicators: ‘In 1989 about 14 million people in the transition economies were living under a poverty line of $4 a day. By the mid-1990s that number was about 147 million, one person in three. The distribution of income in the communist period was relatively egalitarian, primarily because of a relatively flat wage distribution, but also because of the virtual absence of income from property and the redistribution of income through social transfers… Today, some eight years later, income distribution has worsened sharply, particularly in the former Soviet Union… the stress is showing in the declining or stagnating life expectancy and sharply worsening adult mortality. Today, for example, the probability that a 15-year-old Ukrainian male will survive until his sixtieth birthday is a mere 65 per cent, down from 72 per cent in 1980. The Europe and Central Asia region is the only part of the developing world with rising adult mortality rates. Even Sub-Saharan Africa, with its AIDS epidemic, is seeing a reduction in adult mortality.’

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After the bombing of Yugoslavia – the US prepares to confront China

1st December 1999 Socialist Action 0

First published: Dec 1999

The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia set a precedent for unilateral military action by the United States and its allies outside of any framework of international law – making clear that such wars would not be subject to vetoes by China or Russia within the United Nations Security Council. This was not an ‘accident’ necessitated by the urgency for humanitarian intervention, as NATO claimed. The bombing was meticulously planned many months in advance. The destruction of the post-World War Two international political order was rather a central goal of the bombing and the way in which it was launched.

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The choices for Russia – The economic programme of the Left Opposition, part 1

1st September 1999 Socialist Action 0

First published: Autumn 1991

This article was first published in Socialist Action in Autumn 1991. Its prognosis – that the reintroduction of capitalism would devastate those economies, reduce hundreds of millions of people to poverty and result in steps towards capitalist dictatorship – has been amply confirmed by events. The text is reproduced in full with only stylistic corrections.

Economic catastrophe is sweeping Eastern Europe and the former USSR with the reintroduction of capitalism. It is bringing the rise of racism, reactionary nationalism, and moves to capitalist dictatorship. Stalinism in Eastern Europe, by repelling the working classes from socialism, brought these countries to the brink of disaster. However, the subsequent assault on the working class and the violent moves of these societies to the right, which have accompanied the re-introduction of capitalism, completely discredited those in the West who believed that the events after 1989 in Eastern Europe – the introduction of capitalist governments – represented a way forward. Instead they confront the working class with the threat of the greatest defeats in its history and the unfolding of a period of unparalleled reaction in Europe – and internationally. In fighting the consequences of this for Eastern Europe and the former USSR the left, above all, needs an economic programme that both opposes the reintroduction of capitalism and is a planned alternative to the course launched by Stalinism. The most important of these historically was Trotsky’s economic policy for the Soviet Union – put forward directly against Stalin. This supplement outlines the economic positions of the Left Opposition in the USSR.

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The choices for Russia – The economic programme of the Left Opposition, part 2

1st September 1999 Socialist Action 0

[Continued from Part 1]

 

2. The central choice in the Soviet economy

From the fact that it was not possible to resolve all contradictions within the Soviet economy on the basis of the economy of one country, however, did not follow that nothing could be done in the USSR itself. Quite the contrary, from the difficulties it flowed that everything possible should be done. The point was simply that socialism in one country and the classic Marxist analysis outlined by Trotsky led to diametrically opposite conclusions as to what should be done. As Trotsky noted: ‘In general, within the boundaries of a single nation, it is impossible to completely overcome the difficulties resulting from the delay in the world revolution. This should be said clearly, firmly and honestly, in a Marxist and Leninist way. But although the fate of the revolution is a function of its international character, it does not follow that the party in each country is relieved of the duty to do the maximum in all areas. On the contrary, this obligation only increases, because the economic errors made in the USSR not only retard the building of socialism in our country, but strike in the most direct way at the world revolution.’ [45]

He noted: ‘A [genuine] left course could not promise to build “full socialism” by our efforts alone. It could not even promise a complete triumph over the contradictions within the country, as long as world contradictions exist. But it could gradually establish more correct control over the domestic class contradictions – more correct from the standpoint of socialism under construction. It could quicken the rate of growth, through a more correct policy of distributing the national income. It could consolidate in a more systematic and serious way the proletariat’s hold on the commanding heights of the economy.’ [46]

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The choices for Russia – The economic programme of the Left Opposition, part 3

1st September 1999 Socialist Action 0

[Continued from Part 2]

 

3. Democracy and the categories of commodity economy

It was from the angle of proportions in the economy, not micro decision-making, self management, that the issues of the relation of democracy and economics were most fundamentally posed. Democratic resolution of the plan, to decide the allocation of resources, was the decisive issue. As Trotsky noted: ‘The problem of the elements of production and the branches of the economy constitutes the very heart of socialist economy.’ [93]

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Fight racism

1st November 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: November 1998

Racism has become a key political weapon deployed more and more frequently by mainstream capitalist parties in Western Europe, Australia and the United States over the last decade. A recent example is the governing Christian Social Union (CSU) campaign in Bavaria which featured a poster stating: ‘If you want more foreigners don’t vote CSU’. The head of the CSU parliamentary caucus in Bonn stated in July ‘Foreigners and criminals are two topics which unfortunately go together’. The campaign was so racist that the local far right withdrew their candidates on the grounds that the CSU had already adopted all of their policies!