Socialist Worker

Russia


The system cracks

18 December 1999
A WORLD divided by the Cold War also saw outbursts of struggle East and West. In Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 workers rose up against the Stalinist regimes, and battled against Russian tanks. In France in 1968 and Portugal in 1974 there were powerful mass movements that challenged the existing order. The long post-war boom had raised people's expectations of a better life. Many were prepared to fight to realise those aspirations.

Isolation and defeat

18 December 1999
THE LEADERS of the Russian Revolution knew that the new society would be strangled at birth by the capitalist powers if it remained isolated. So revolution would have to be an international phenomenon. The Western powers, realising this, moved quickly to isolate Russia. The country was invaded by 14 capitalist powers which backed the reactionary "White Army" during the civil war that followed. The motor of the revolution, the working class, was slaughtered and atomised.

Blazing torch of revolution

18 December 1999
"WE DEMAND total control of the branches of industry by the working people. From you capitalists, weeping crocodile tears, we demand you stop weeping about chaos you yourselves have created. Your cards are on the table, the game is up, your persecution can no longer be successful. Go off and hide. Think your own thoughts and don't dare show your faces, or else you'll find yourself without a nose, and without a head to boot." RESOLUTION passed at mass meeting of workers in the Putilov engineering works in Petrograd on the eve of the Russian Revolution

Russian workers seize power

18 December 1999
BY THE start of 1917 the slaughter of the First World War, economic ruin and hatred of the Tsar combined to spark rebellion in Russia. At the front soldiers, spurred on by Bolshevik agitators, deserted in droves and returned home. On 23 February, International Women's Day, the working class women of Petrograd filled the streets demanding bread. A revolution was under way.

Love in a cold climate

11 December 1999
THE NEW film Onegin is set in the world of the Russian aristocracy in the 19th century. It is based on a novel by Alexander Pushkin-himself a member of the Russian aristocracy-written in the 1830s. Russia was then a backward, rural society where individuals' lives were controlled by patronage and "fate". But it was also a world in transition.

Barbaric onslaught against Grozny

11 December 1999
"GET OUT or die." That was the barbaric message from Russian forces to people in the Chechen capital, Grozny, this week. Russia is waging a savage war to crush people in the tiny republic in the mountainous Caucasus who are fighting for independence from Russian rule.

Flying the flag for revolution

27 November 1999
THIS WORKERS' banner (above) is from the period of the Russian Revolution of 1917. It is one of many fascinating items on show in the "Banners at Large" exhibition at The Pumphouse People's History Museum in Manchester until 30 January next year. The banner was sent from the textile workers of Moscow to the textile workers of Yorkshire in about 1920. It was brought to Britain by Maggie Jordan, a mill worker from Shipley.

Lessons in brutality

27 November 1999
BORIS YELTSIN was hailed in the West as the slayer of the Stalinist regime that ruled Russia till 1991. But in Chechnya he has been acting as Stalin's heir, trying through indiscriminate bombardment to crush a people whom Stalin himself deported to Central Asia at the end of the Second World War.

The roots of Russia's war

20 November 1999
RUSSIA IS pursuing a brutal and relentless war in Chechnya, deliberately copying the tactics used by NATO to devastate the Balkans. Last weekend Russian leaders ordered the entire population of Grozny, the Chechen capital, to leave the city. The military is ready to destroy the entire city. The evacuation of the city will add tens of thousands of refugees to the 300,000 already fleeing the fighting.

The harder they come

13 November 1999
JUST OVER a year ago the world economy found itself standing at the edge of an abyss. The Russian crash of August 1998, coming in the wake of the Asian economic crisis, sent global financial markets into panic.

Privatisation is the key divide

06 November 1999
"I FEEL ashamed to say that I'm a member of the London Labour Party. The shenanigans that are taking place to stop Ken from becoming mayor are a disgrace. This has nothing to do with democratic socialism. It is more like Stalin's Russia."

Russia follows in NATO's footsteps

06 November 1999
BOMBS SMASHED into a refugee convoy, slaughtering at least 25 civilians and injuring over 150 people. This could have been a scene of horror from NATO's war in the Balkans. But the bombing happened last week - the latest atrocity in Russia's increasingly horrific war against Chechenia. The Red Cross said the refugee convoy was clearly marked and visible from the air. Two Red Cross workers were also killed in the bombing.

Do revolutions always have to end in tyranny?

06 November 1999
"SOCIETY MAY be in a mess, but a revolution would produce a new tyranny." That is one of the most common objections to the idea of revolution. Defenders of capitalism said the monstrous societies of Eastern Europe and Russia which collapsed in 1989 were the inevitable result of workers' revolution.

Tony Cliff interview ten years after the wall came down

06 November 1999
When a person dies, the autopsy reveals the nature of their illness. The collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Russia and Eastern Europe makes it possible to be absolutely clear about the nature of those regimes. There was no resistance to the collapse from the mass of people. They didn't defend the system. That shows they didn't believe the regimes had anything to do with socialism or workers' power.

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