Correspondence from Russia

The following is a translation from Italian of a letter our comrades received which we are happy to publish both for the information it contains and the lively analysis it makes.

Caught between a Europe in crisis and an East, which has now become the world's factory, Russia is taking steps to carve out its slice of the world imperialist cake. The geographical location of this vast country seems to be its biggest asset, along with its endless energy resources and raw materials, not to mention the deterrent effect of its nuclear and military power. We speak, therefore, of a real actor in the ups and downs of international politics and economics and the recent events in Syria and the Iranian issue, symptomatic of a revitalization of Russian imperialism seem to prove that it is going through a rebirth after its devastating defeat in the Cold War.

And it was precisely in the aftermath of the Cold War that the Russian bourgeoisie, embodied by Putin, whipped up nationalist propaganda among the toiling masses. A "wounded pride" that dreams of expansion is trying to heal itself by restoring the glory of Mother Russia as in the time of Peter the Great, or perhaps of Stalin. Yes, because Vladimir Putin is the son of Soviet state capitalism and never misses an opportunity to remind us of it, so as to define the collapse of the USSR as " the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the twentieth century ", awakening the feelings of the Russian Slavophile, stunned by Yeltsin’s Westernisation in the 1990s. And it is on to precisely this that they are trying to shift the conflict here in Russia (as was popular in the nineteenth century, at the time of spread of populist and then Marxist ideas): in order to derail the latent and sporadic class conflicts. They make out that the West is at the gates ready to plunder the wealth of the country, when in fact the enemy is at home and is also clearly visible.

The Soviet Union and its collapse has instilled in the Russian working class a sense of disenchantment with social change, but twenty years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, illusions about capitalism are also declining. All the parties promise renewal and economic growth but the middle class is failing to develop, so out trots an old enemy of the world working class: Great Russian nationalism.

Racially motivated attacks against immigrants from the former Soviet republics of Central Asia are not new and are the work of Nazi skinheads, who, with their groups, have their largest base in this country, scene of the greatest internationalist proletarian revolution in history. Estimated at around eighty thousand members, neo-Nazi groups are supplied and financed by oligarchs close to the Kremlin, and appear to be a considerable obstacle to the resumption of the class struggle, given the weapons that they use and the information we have on the few and oppressed revolutionary groups available. In 2010, there was the case of the murder of a comrade in Moscow, at the hands of these thugs of the bourgeoisie.

Some comrades have told me about their precautionary measures and, since they are used to changing accommodation every day, changing clothes every four hours and never using the same SIM card in the phone, it seems that only with the help of the secret services could they have located comrade Ivan Kostolom[1], if it was not the secret services themselves who committed the murder.

The weight of Stalinism here is more alive than ever in every organization that refers to communism, they are more or less a remake of the anti-Marxist theses of the mustachioed Georgian, and internationalism is a taboo which seems to permeate their antagonistic fringes touted as a confused kind of anti-imperialism in post-Soviet sauce. Not surprisingly, this sleep of political reason produces hybrid monsters in organizations, such as the infamous National Bolsheviks, red-brown fascists who use communist symbols now opened to the reaction through the state capitalist treachery of the USSR. Fine politics of the jungle therefore, which are not easy to unravel if you do not have a strong stomach, a little political cunning and intuition, not to mention that the political opportunities left by the bourgeois state are much less than in decadent and crypto (?) fascist Europe.

The liberal-bourgeois opposition to Putin deserves a separate chapter. Screeching child of a rising petty bourgeois middle class, too unfortunate to have seen much of the economic success of global capitalism and too bourgeois to flow into the real movement of the worldwide class struggle; it faces a short and diseased life faced with the ruling class of a country that refuses to share the spoils of its ragged and shabby imperialism, linked to territorial disputes, and too vulgar to prevent a return of the revolutionary flame in the homeland of Bolshevik rule.

The key to this powder keg of social and political issues lies, as dialectical materialism leads us to see, in the global and domestic economic situation. If on the one hand, Russia is tied to the Brics bandwagon it certainly does not have the same figures for industrial growth as China and nor those for Indian labour, and not even the Brazilian role as continental leader. But it has something that none of the other "emerging" actors have, endless energy resources, which are essential for economic growth in Asia. The double-edged sword for the Russian bourgeoisie, comes from commodity dependence and its structural inability to compete on other levels with its Asian partners, their reserves of child labour, its atavistic backwardness in machinery, its monopoly in the war industries sector. This leads to a reduction in growth forecasts as well as dreams of being a great power, reducing Russia to China’s running dog and forcing it to deal with whoever offers most to gain its alliance, whether it is the West, or the Celestial Empire, in its neo-Maoist guise. In this, Russia had already been identified by Lenin as the weakest link in the imperialist chain, given its inability to become an autonomous industrial power and to show itself financially strong on world markets.

An analysis of this protagonist of modern history by Marxists has become important and necessary, to fight the myths of the Soviet past and to generalise the internationalist struggle, to understand the strategic importance of reopening a revolutionary front in a country torn between East and West.


Friday, November 9, 2012

[1] Ivan Kostolom [иван костолом] or Khutorskoy was a 26 year old Moscow anarchist noted for anti-fascist activity. He was gunned down as he entered his apartment in Moscow exactly three years ago today (16 November), just one of hundreds of unsolved murders of opponents of Putin’s democratic Russia.

Friday, November 16, 2012