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  • The Russian Elections and the Revival of Russian Communism It is fifty years since Yuri Gagarin took mankind to the heavens, and twenty since the collapse of the Soviet Union. These events played a decisive role in the fate ...
    Posted 8 Dec 2011, 02:24 by heiko khoo
  • Kyrgyzstan's second "tulip revolution" A video from the real news network
    Posted 25 Apr 2010, 04:17 by Unknown user
  • Interview with Boris Kagarlitsky and Roman Yushkov An interview conducted in London with Boris Kagarlitsky and Roman Yushkov on the labour and environmental practices of major Russian corporations.
    Posted 7 May 2010, 03:24 by Admin uk
  • Kyrgyzstan revolutions and power politics. By Heiko Khoo and Daniar Kasygulov The recent riots and the overthrow of the President Bakiev of Kyrgyzstan are an expression of profound discontent by the masses with their lot ...
    Posted 11 Apr 2010, 14:09 by Admin uk
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The Russian Elections and the Revival of Russian Communism

posted 8 Dec 2011, 02:24 by heiko khoo

It is fifty years since Yuri Gagarin took mankind to the heavens, and twenty since the collapse of the Soviet Union. These events played a decisive role in the fate of humanity.

So the revival of the fortunes of the Russian Communists in the recent parliamentary election should be seen as an event of global significance. A horrified Madeleine Albright, the former US Secretary of State, bemoans the continued strength of ‘hardline communists’, whose support is based on popular discontent with the consequences of the dissolution of the USSR.

 

The economic decline began in 1991 and it took ten years before the Russian economy returned to the same level of production. During this time the masses were impoverished, and the wealth produced by the blood and sweat of the Russian workers was swindled out of their hands by such means as voucher-based mass privatisation, which was followed by a wider transfer of state owned assets to private hands. This resulted in a tiny handful of oligarchs gaining personal ownership of the nation’s natural resources and monopolies. The business class engaged in massive capital flight, laundering their money through Western markets.

 

The end of collectivism and the rise of capitalism acted like an epidemic stalking the nation, former communist countries underwent the world’s worst peacetime mortality crisis in the past 50 years, resulting in millions of additional male deaths in the 1990s. To this day, life expectancy in Russia is below that of 1961, when Gagarin flew to space in the era of hope, collectivism and dignity.

 

In 1961, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union worked out plans to overtake the USA by 1980, laying the basis for a 6-hour working day, free housing, transport, energy and a society of abundance. The dreams of the early 1960s were not realised, due to the over-nationalisation of the economy, combined with corresponding bureaucratic structures of economic coordination, which generated lethargy and passivity instead of dynamism and innovation. Prices were unresponsive to market impulses, and the poor quality and quantity of consumer goods reinforced a tendency towards general social listlessness. When capitalism took power in the 1990s, the social benefits of the universal planning system in health, education, housing, and scientific development were systematically eradicated; the resistance against this destruction was minimal. 

 

The government under President Yeltsin did all it could to assist the plunder of national resources, claiming that shock therapy was required to rapidly install a new ruling class, for fear that gradual change would provoke a Communist comeback. In the Presidential elections of 1996, the oligarchic entourage mobilised their finance and resources to ensure that Yeltsin scraped to victory against the Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov. Widespread fraud was used assist this electoral victory, but Western leaders expressed no concerns about this and declared the vote to be ‘free and fair’.

 

An economic collapse in 1998, connected with the Asian financial crisis, saw the Russian currency devalued and savings collapse. Yeltsin stepped down in 1999, handing the Presidency to Vladimir Putin, who presided over an era of booming state revenues. He reordered relations between political power and the oligarchs, demanding that the billionaires refrain from direct political opposition. Bolstered by a rise in energy prices, Russian GDP returned to 1991 levels in 2001 and then nearly doubled in size, before the world economic crisis hit in 2008. Economic growth brought real improvements in living standards, a reduction in unemployment and a halving of the number of those living in poverty.

 

The growth has nevertheless been grossly uneven, and the fruits of this growth unequally distributed. 22 Oligarchs own $216 billion, while 80 per cent of the workforce earns less than $250 per month. The provision of facilities in healthcare, education, transport and scientific research are a pale shadow of those in late Soviet times. 

 

In the late 1980s, it appeared that the Soviet system simply did not work and that the high level of investment in social provision was economically unsustainable. Twenty years later, China has proven that a Communist Party in power can continuously develop the economy, modernise infrastructure and improve real living standards. The Russian masses and the leadership of the Russian Communist Party are well aware of this. 

 

Even though the election on December 4th was rigged, the doubling of votes for the Communist Party to 20 per cent indicates that an outright electoral victory is now a foreseeable prospect. The key to such a victory will lie in the party’s capacity to galvanise societal discontent and anchor itself in the everyday struggles of the masses.

 

To this end, the Communist Party should think big. Its task is not to continually laud the Soviet past or any of its leaders, but to draw up concrete plans for the reorganisation of society by democratic and socialist means. In factories threatened with privatisation and cities needing regeneration, alternative developmental plans should be elaborated. Such plans can be worked out in detail by Communists, trade unionists and other democratically elected representatives of the masses, in cities, towns and regions throughout Russia. In this process, Chinese state enterprises and local and national government bodies should be contacted to help provide skills and resources to elaborate a comprehensive Sino-Russian plan of collaboration, development and progress. Then the Communists can present these plans to the electorate as the foundation of a socialist economic strategy.

 

The programme of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the speeches and writings of its leader Gennady Zyuganov, call for the nationalisation of the banks and all strategic industries, and for the restoration of universal and world quality, free education, health care and scientific research. The declining authority of Russian capitalism’s political representatives provides Russian Communists with the opportunity to ride on the wave of discontent, cracking the image of invincibility that Vladimir Putin and his entourage try to cultivate. If the Communists are seen to be more democratic, closer to the masses, and capable of stimulating Chinese rates of economic growth, their support will rise and a modern and successful Soviet Russia can be born. 

Kyrgyzstan's second "tulip revolution"

posted 25 Apr 2010, 03:49 by Unknown user   [ updated 25 Apr 2010, 04:17 ]

A video from the real news network

YouTube Video


Interview with Boris Kagarlitsky and Roman Yushkov

posted 12 Apr 2010, 12:45 by Admin uk   [ updated 7 May 2010, 03:24 ]

An interview conducted in London with Boris Kagarlitsky and Roman Yushkov on the labour and environmental practices of major Russian corporations.

Boris Kagarlitsky and Roman Yushkov

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Kyrgyzstan revolutions and power politics.

posted 11 Apr 2010, 14:01 by Admin uk   [ updated 11 Apr 2010, 14:09 ]

By Heiko Khoo and Daniar Kasygulov

The recent riots and the overthrow of the President Bakiev of Kyrgyzstan are an expression of profound discontent by the masses with their lot. Thousands of people took to the streets to vent their anger at being cheated and lied to by their government and President. President Bakiev, his family and their entourage systematically plundered state assets, while over a half the population live in poverty. This was reflected in the rapid turn in events that briefly brought this forgotten corner of the world to the headlines.

Kyrgysztan … some background.

Kyrgyzstan’s population is 5.2 million of whom 3.3 million are rural; half of them are designated as poor, often lacking running water, public sewerage, health and education. Agriculture accounts for 30% of national production, and livestock breeding is the mainstay of the agricultural sector, but the resources needed to protect pastures, prevent livestock diseases, gain knowledge of resource management and access to markets are all lacking. Its industrial economy is weak, although Kyrgyzstan has one of the largest proven gold reserves in the world and is a major producer of hydroelectric power. The country is completely dependent on former Soviet States for oil and gas supplies.

The five Central Asian Republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) cover a landmass larger than India. From the time of Alexander the Great this was the gateway for east west land trade. It was eclipsed by the rise of maritime trade and power in the 14th and 15th centuries. Tsarist Russia vied with the British for influence in the region from 1735. By 1880 through settlements and repression, the Tsarist empire extended its control to the borders of modern Afghanistan and Iran, and gained dominance of the Caspian Sea and its markets, governing through a single administrative entity called Turkistan. 

Following the Russian revolution requisitions inflamed Turkic revolts known as the Basmachi movement, Lenin’s government made concessions to these peoples and the New Economic Policy reduced hostility to the Bolsheviks. Resentments based on localised interests as well as religious and ethnic conflicts were partially contained under Stalin by subdividing Turkistan into five artificial republics, which were based on bureaucratic administration and control.

There was significant investment in industry in the post war era and Kyrgyzstan was an important agricultural producer in Soviet times. Workers from European parts of the USSR migrated there to work in agriculture and industry. The republic developed rapidly and had an advanced education, science, technology, public health and welfare system. In 1991 it was ranked 31st in the world in Human Development Indicators, just below Czechoslovakia according UN surveys.

The early post Soviet years were a disaster for Kyrgyzstan; GDP fell by 68% between 1992-1995, industrial production fell by 92%. Per capita production fell dramatically from US$1160 in 1991 to US$700 in 1995. (Economic Migration in Post-Soviet Central Asia: The Case of Kyrgyzstan Rafis Abazov) With the collapse USSR mafia type structures vied for control of newly privatized assets, economic resources and power, and found powerful backers in international embassies and institutions.

The Revolutions of 2005 and 2010

In recent days there were dramatic TV scenes and photographs of revolt and of the wounded and dead. Civilians stormed key buildings, armed fighting with state forces broke out and the President fled to safety. It looks, sounds and feels like a revolution, but is it?

As in a tragi-comic theatre, the ouster of President Kurmanbek Bakiev in the last few days, took almost exactly the same form as the ‘Tulip revolution’ that saw his star rise over Central Asia in 2005. In that ‘revolution’ the masses also rose up and overthrew the old leaders. The 2005 revolution gathered its forces in protest against rigged elections, state control of the media, and the accumulation of economic resources in the hands of the ruling clan around the then President, Askar Akayev. The revolt centred on an opposition led protest on March 24th 2005 in which Presidential Palace was stormed and the police and army remained ambivalent. Déjà vu.

New brooms swept away the old and brought ‘democratic forces’ to power, although rumours were spread that behind this ‘mass revolution’ lay the invisible hand of Uncle Sam. A tale vigorously denied by Washington, senior officials claimed they are not in ‘the revolution business’. However a cosy relationship to the US certainly prevailed under President Bakiev.

The present ‘revolutionary’ form of events conceals behind it the hand of powerful counterposed international interests, these assume overwhelming dominance in the character and outcome of these movements. Just as a war dragging the armies of powerful nations into conflict can break out over an incidental matter, so the spark for the current conflict was genuine social discontent. However, Russian controlled media campaigns and Russian energy price hikes in the run up to this weeks ‘revolution’, might lead one to look towards Moscow to discover the invisible hand in these events. Vladimir Putin denies this, and we all know Putin is an honourable man.

Moscow and Beijing have more than passing geo-strategic interests here and both have been studying the colourful theatrical methods employed by the USA. All these powers are involved in the ‘Great Game’ for influence and control. One wild card in this game is the potential for Islamic fundamentalism to gain a foothold.

A famous communist characterised revolution as the ‘forcible entry of the masses into governing their own destiny’. The primary characteristic of this ‘revolution’ was actually the absence of the masses from participation. A study of the images, videos and reports from Kyrgyzstan reveals that nowhere does one find mass involvement in the ‘revolution’ of 2010. Bishkek is a city of 900,000 inhabitants, but even after President Bakiev fled the capital fewer than 10,000 people attended the mass funeral for those killed. There are no reports of any protests with more than ten thousand participants over the last days.

Russian TV reports indicate that murky forces were at play in the killings, demonstrators claim that those killed were killed by snipers from the rooftops, not by regular Kyrgyz forces, and that the police units which fought them, were composed of mercenaries from different regions of the former USSR.

But if this was not a revolution why did the regime fall? This is not the first, nor will it be the last regime, that is so weak that small protests are enough to bring it down. The state apparatus is split in its loyalties towards various clans and cliques backed by Washington, Moscow and Beijing, as well as by the interests of the rulers of the Central Asian Republics. The ruling groups conspire and balance between these powers, organising, instigating and leaning on ‘revolutionary’ movements to gain control of the state.

It is precisely because broad layers of the people understand that ruling cliques use them as fodder, that the masses were largely absent from ‘their revolution’. Their legitimate anger and frustration will find a genuinely revolutionary form; when through all the fog, intrigue and great power politics, a force emerges inspired by the vision of a democratic socialist federation of the peoples.


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