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The implosion of the stalinist USSR

10/12/2021 | publications

A few days ago, in November, was the 30th anniversary of the outlawing of the CPSU... by its own leaders. We now publish a selection of four texts originally published between 1987 and 1991 in FOR newsletters and magazines with analyses of the Gorbachevian "Perestroika", of the coup d'etat of '91 that precipitated the implosion of the stalinist USSR and of the so-called "New World Order" immediately advanced by imperialist powers hoping to get their share of the spoils.

How can anyone talk about "nostalgia" 30 years after the implosion of the stalinist USSR?

"Perestroika, democracy, reform and transparency (glasnost)". CPSU propaganda poster before the implosion of the stalinist USSR.

"Perestroika, democracy, reform and transparency (glasnost)". CPSU propaganda poster before the implosion of the stalinist USSR.

Before the outlawing of the CPSU by its own leaders, the coup d'état of August 1991 had already precipitated the implosion of the stalinist USSR culminating a long crisis of Russian state capitalism born of the counter-revolution and its political apparatus. A crisis implicitly recognized by Gorbachev's "Perestroika" (re-structuring) and "Glasnost" (transparency) policies from '86 onwards.

At the time, the "nostalgia" that quite a few television networks sell us today would have seemed impossible. The contempt and passive weariness of the workers all over the territory of that gigantic USSR against the regime and the exploitation it imposed on them, the widespread resistance, was visible to even the most alienated tourist, let alone to the bureaucracy itself.

Like Khrushchev some time ago and others in the shadows, the new General Secretary realizes, tacitly, that the greatest impediment to the even normal functioning of the Russian economy, without inferiority to the major powers, comes from the passive resistance universally opposed to the conditions of life, work and food supply, plus the daily media lies, suffered by the population, in particular the working class.

In addition, it is due to the contempt, to the point of nausea, inspired by the dictatorial caste. As long as such impediments are not removed, neither robotics, nor computer science, nor any scientific discovery will do the rulers any good inside their borders; neither outside them, where the disbanding of the pro-Russian parties will not reverse it.

In Russia, a second stalinist de-stalinization (1987)

In the 1980s, throughout this process, revolutionaries never stopped either hoping for revolt or fighting towards it

We must speak for the exploited. Even if our voice does not reach Russia for now, the same goes for China, the United States, Western Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America from Cuba and Mexico to Argentina and Chile.

To them we must say: no solution will be reached without changing the distribution of the social product of labor. The 85% of the population (4,500 million people) currently rationed with only 20% of the product of their work, must take possession of it, suppress all expenditure, all activity that does not respond to their own consumption, including cultural, healthcare, etc.

For this it is indispensable to wrest power from the 15% of collective or individual capitalists who monopolize 80% of the wealth. Thus the working class will become the subjective factor of the economy, representing the entire society. Thus a new world civilization will be inaugurated, without classes, State, or oppression. To begin wherever it is necessary. And it can, it must start in Russia.

Passive resistance leaves the way open to the already existing, and in Russia the KGB will continue to lurk on every corner, in every neighborhood, in every factory. Against it we must organize as an exploited class, and as a revolutionary party within it.

Gorbachev's play, 1988

Was the implosion of the USSR and the banning of the CPSU a defeat of the workers?

Yeltsin during the 1991 coup. Then Secretary of the Russian Stalinist Communist Party, he would ban the CPSU less than three months later.

Yeltsin during the 1991 coup. Then Secretary of the Russian Stalinist Communist Party, he would ban the CPSU less than three months later.

It was this resistance, sometimes in the active form of large mass strikes, always in the passive form of absenteeism and non-cooperation, which made the form of capital accumulation maintained by the regime unviable.

Stalinism never totally subdued the working class, and the working class eventually destroyed stalinism. But it destroyed all the forms of organization that the proletariat had given itself in its struggle against capital, leaving only tiny and scattered revolutionary organizations, in fact incapable of taking advantage of the weakening of the Moscow dictatorship.

‎Coup in‎ Russia, August 1991

Thus, the implosion of the USSR and the demise of the CPSU were not seen as a "defeat" for anyone who was not a subsidized individual or part of the old exploiting bureaucracy. In fact, not even from the latter, who were already at full speed reconverting themselves into what they are today.

The implosion of the Party-State did not cause the terror of its henchmen, but rather their jubilant rush to no less sinister havens: democrats, fascists and nationalists, with a zeal for each to his own, mixed with racism and xenophobia, here comes the incubator where the stalinist manure blooms again. At the head of the Transcaucasian militiamen, inside Pamiat or around Yelstin, one finds the same mold of inhumanity and lies.

Contrary to the nonsense propagated by the journalistic caste, all these new leaders have learned efficiency under the Party, the Army or the KGB. Working efficiently does not mean producing usefully under the reign of capital, where bureaucrats, technocrats and autocrats swarm like vermin over the poor. Their function was only to block the way to subversion, to guard capital.

Today they can no longer do so. They have lost to the proletarians who hate them and see them as oppressors. They have won and fulfilled their function by making people believe, at least temporarily, that any revolt would produce new Stalins.

This efficiency is essentially reconverted into the productivist management of capital. They immediately undermine their fragile victory because they have only one slogan, only one instruction and only one way out for the proletarians: exploitation. The increase of exploitation, the beginning of mass layoffs and the dizzying rise of prices have already put an end to the proletarian illusions about the benefits of national independence and democracy.

Also, the indispensable freedom of action granted to all, necessary for the elimination of the Party-State, also benefited the proletarians and has encouraged them to organize.

Let the statues fall and let the execrable mummy of Lenin rot at last. Those who do so in democratic euphoria are merely sweeping away the despotic products of "socialist realism" and are already preparing, disillusioned and combative, to take up the central ideas common to Lenin and the other communist revolutionaries: first the defeat of their country before that of their class, no concessions to the democrats.

‎Coup d'état in‎ Russia, August 1991

With the same logic, they had no illusions about the "New World Order" that was beginning to organize itself around the spoils of the stalinist empire amidst chants of "peace," the "end of history" and the "unity of democracies."

When such a vast complex of capitalist domination crumbles, it creates a veritable call for new capitalist candidates to dominate the most interesting parts (whether they contain raw materials, tools of production or labor reserves). The rapacious compete for the pieces of the weakened or dying power, the old zones of influence decay and gravitate towards a new more powerful network or try to form a greater or lesser "Dominion" in turn.‎...‎

The unity of capitalism can only be achieved by denying the unitary character of capital, by recognizing an irreducible and dissolving enemy: the proletariat. What unites the capitalists, otherwise at permanent war with each other, is the action of the proletariat and the reaction against its properties: the mediatization of thought against the immediacy of praxis, the parcelization and splitting of the individual against the totality of the person and collective unity.

Any weakening of the capitalist complex must be understood as the result of this permanent antagonism, even and especially if the scavengers come to feed on the corpse of one of their own. This is all the more important since it happened at the heart of the latest counter-revolution, the longest and deepest the working class has ever suffered. This weakening incites the proletarians to demonstrate against capital and to show the uniqueness of their condition, which is the guarantee of their unity and of the absence of any other force to put an end to oppression based on the extraction of surplus value, and to all oppression by this means.

New World Order, 1991

Read Perestroika and the Implosion of the stalinist USSR, a selection of FOR texts published between 1987 and 1991, or download it as a PDF