Invent the Future

"We must dare to invent the future" - Thomas Sankara

soviet-part5

The basic cause of the dissolution of the Soviet Union may be identified as the long-term ideological chaos that prevailed in the USSR. Acting as a key driver of events were long-term mistakes in organisational policy, while the primary factor that dealt the direct, fatal blow was political betrayal, through the implementation of ‘perestroika and new thinking’.1 Gorbachev: the beginning of the end After a decade of economic stagnation, declining popular confidence and escalating military confrontation with the West – and with three CPSU general secretaries in three years having died on the job (Brezhnev, Andropov and Chernenko) – there […]

soviet-part4

Why doesn’t the Soviet Union exist any more? Part 4: Imperialist destabilisation and military pressure Not for a moment since 1917 have the fascist and democratic Western powers abandoned the idea of defeating the Soviet Union. (Samir Amin, Russia and the Long Transition from Capitalism to Socialism, Monthly Review) Full-court press against the USSR Seeing the Soviet Union experiencing economic and political difficulties, and noting the deepening split within the socialist camp, it dawned on US strategists that there was potentially a historic opportunity to push the USSR off the cliff. Having identified this opening in the late 1970s, the […]

soviet-part3

A crisis of confidence How do societies stick together? How do you organise the cooperation of millions of people – a modern challenge that humans have only had to face since the emergence of civilisation in Asia a few thousand years ago? At the root of any successful project of that kind is a set of beliefs and values shared by a large number of the population – beliefs and values that bind them to the existing order. Modern capitalism, for example, is strongly rooted in individualism, consumerism, the idea of the free market as being fundamental to human life, […]

soviet-part2

We do not forget for a moment that we have committed and are committing numerous mistakes and are suffering numerous reverses. How can reverses and mistakes be avoided in a matter so new in the history of the world as the building of an unprecedented type of state edifice! We shall work steadfastly to set our reverses and mistakes right and to improve our practical application of Soviet principles, which is still very, very far from being perfect. (VI Lenin, Fourth Anniversary of the October Revolution, 1921) As discussed in the previous article, the Soviet Union recorded world-historic achievements in […]

Over the coming weeks, I will be publishing a series of articles regarding the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR, or Soviet Union). Although a distance of more than 25 years separates us from that fateful day in 1991 when the USSR ceased to exist, the left’s understanding of the Soviet collapse is still limited and many of the important themes are poorly understood. Why dig up these particular old bones? Because we must reflect on, and learn from, history. The world’s first socialist state no longer exists, and nor do the European people’s democracies that were its […]

us-vs-china

This article first appeared in the Morning Star on 23 October 2017. Manchester University Press RRP £22.50 China’s rise is the most significant development in modern history since the collapse of the Soviet Union. For most readers of this newspaper, it is a profoundly positive advance: hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty, and China has been transformed from a technologically backward and underdeveloped country into a global powerhouse. Increasingly it is a world leader in environmental preservation and in the pursuit of a new type of globalisation based on cooperation and shared prosperity. Not everyone is pleased […]

russrev

This article first appeared in the Morning Star on 19 July 2017. In this compact book of just over 200 pages, Geoffrey Swain does a surprisingly good job of presenting a historical overview of the October Revolution – the defining event of the 20th century, the centenary of which we celebrate this year. The writing is necessarily dense, but not to the point of impenetrability, and most readers will find something of value here, although many Morning Star readers will undoubtedly find some things to disagree with. Swain offers two key ideas that are relatively controversial in terms of mainstream […]

jezchavez

He hates racism of all kinds. Actually genuinely hates it, not just pretending. He’s done more against it than any of us, working to support oppressed communities, taking asylum cases to the Home Office, campaigning tirelessly on behalf of the victims of racism, xenophobia and religious discrimination. He hates war. Again, he’s done more against it than the vast majority of us. Wouldn’t it be good if the person making the final decision about whether to bomb a country was the same person that can be heard in Trafalgar Square shouting “No war for oil”? He wants to save the […]

humans

Tories resorting to xenophobia It’s difficult to imagine an election campaign less imaginative and effective than the one the Conservative Party has been waging. Conversely, Labour’s campaign has been both convincing and compelling. Even in the eyes of many Labour MPs, Jeremy Corbyn was “unelectable and undesirable” just a couple of months ago, and yet, with just a few days to go until polling day, Labour are closing the gap on the Tories. When the election was announced, the YouGov poll had the Conservatives on 44 percent to Labour’s 23 percent. The most recent YouGov poll (at the time of […]

corbadams_qhqp7a

Theresa May must have thought that calling a snap general election was a political masterstroke. A landslide victory promised to give her government some legitimacy and shore up support for a hard Brexit that emphasised xenophobia over economic sense. Furthermore, a Tory landslide would make it very difficult for Jeremy Corbyn to continue as leader of the Labour Party, and therefore could well put an end to Corbyn’s project of turning Labour into a vehicle for the interests of ordinary people. Such an outcome could kill meaningful parliamentary opposition for a generation. Unfortunately for May’s plan, Labour is waging an […]

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