Communist Manifesto 2014 ?

Ludwik Kowalski

Professor Emeritus, Montclair State University

Posted on April 28, 2014

Feel free to distribute this item to students, and others.



This short essay is prompted by an article I have just read at an active Russian Communist website:

http://vremia-vpered.org/index.php/about#.U1qtSCj9p5g

1) Why did I give this essay the above title? Because the article I read reminded me of the famous Communist Manifesto published by Marx and Engels in 1848. The name of the website is "Time to Advance." Its organizers claim not to belong to any political party or political movement. They identify themselves as common people believing in the Soviet version of communism. Their goals are described as follows:

* to preserve the history of our great country -- the USSR.
* to counter the lies and slander directed against the Soviet people.
* to assess past events objectively.
* to understand what really took place after the revolution.
* to understand causes that led to the liquidation of the USSR.
* to reject stereotypes imposed by liberal propagandists.
* to expose the true face of capitalism and bourgeois democracy.
* to organize educational activities directed toward building a better society.

2) After identifying these eight goals they write that "an ideal society [will consist of], bright and creative individuals working for the common good and harmony. It will be a collective where 'I' will not come before 'We,' a society driven by love, friendship, mutual respect and mutual assistance. It will be a society in which concepts of 'nationality' and 'religion,' instead of being causes of enmity and hatred, will become causes of mutual understanding and respect. It will be a union in which labor, talents and abilities of each person are applied to the common good. Each individual will be part of this common good. It will be a society in which all roads will be open to young people and in which old people will be respected. In that society the measure of success will not be money; it will be high moral qualities, talent, hard work, expertise, professionalism, and willingness to serve great ideas."

3) This kind of vision is not new to me; I was a communist, as described in my diary at:

_http://pages.csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.html

I also believed in such descriptions. Yes, the existing social structures of the world are far from ideal. Yes, we should be looking for better alternatives. But we should not proceed without first analyzing mistakes made during implementations of "red projects." These costly mistakes should be scientifically analyzed. That is what Karl Marx would do today. He would probably focus on what is described in "Hell on Earth:"

http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/father2/introduction.html

especially on slaves in Gulag camps, on collectivization of agriculture, on mass deportations and executions of innocent people, and on communist morality in practice.

4) Impressed by another description of the ideal society, I wanted to find examples of attempts to understand Stalinism. But what I found on this Russian website was far from an objective evaluation of the tragic Soviet history. Here are Interesting excerpts from a long article:

http://vremia-vpered.org/index.php/forum/68-stranitsy-nashej-istorii/2768-90-letie-so-dnya-obrazovaniya-sssr#.U1qnsij9p5g

a) "In the Soviet Union there was no unemployment, no poor people, no homeless, no street children, no oligarchs, no economic crises and no bankruptcies. There were also no increases in the prices of everything, no kidnapping for ransom, no private and foreign banks engaged in usury, speculation and laundering of stolen money, there was no stupid and annoying advertising, no huge numbers of officials, absorbing public funds, and no expensive postal, telegraphic and telephone services. All people had access to inexpensive transportation, to widely available spa treatments, to free apartments, to almost free summer camps, to high quality food," etc., etc.

b) "Capitalist countries never accepted the idea of being at peace with the first socialist state. Its existence was a thorn in the side of bourgeoisie. Our country created an attractive alternative to the existing order of things. The fall of the Soviet Union allowed capitalists to claim that their so-called "democratic" model is the only correct order of things."

c) "Formal 'independence' from the former Soviet Union did not bring happiness to inhabitants of the former Soviet republics. Borders divided societies, splitting nations and families. This was a setback, in economic and socio-cultural terms; it was disintegration of the former Soviet Union, according to all macroeconomic and demographic indicators. Newly created 'sovereign' states immediately found themselves in the orbit of influence of Western countries, primarily the United States. Only Belarus, headed by A.G. Lukashenko, is ready to conduct a truly independent domestic and foreign policy."

d) "False media and television propaganda prevents our young people from believing in the truly happy life that existed in the USSR. Being communists we believe that we will succeed in overcoming the current turmoil. Why do we have great confidence in the restoration of the new Soviet Union? Because we are inspired by the power of thought of our great teachers, by successes of our fathers and grandfathers, by the mutual attraction of fraternal peoples toward each other, and by objective economic factors. Great common history is the foundation of our common future."

My overall impression is that organizers of the "Time to Advance" website are good propagandists, rather than social scientists, like Marx. I have no doubt that social scientists of high caliber exist in today's Russia. But I see no evidence of their presence among the authors of webpages that I have read at the "Time to Advance" website. True social scientists would most likely focus on discrepancies between what Marx and Engels anticipated, and what really happened in the Soviet Union. They would try to identify causes of Bolshevik mistakes, and to answer the essential question--what should be done to make sure that history will not repeat itself?

5) P.S. What a coincidence! After writing the above I read an interesting article on a friend's unrelated blog. Here are two excerpts from what he shared:

"The popular saying that you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs reflects this understanding, although it is certainly not the case that breaking eggs will inevitably and automatically lead to the creation of an omelet." [Oh yes, I remember the Russian version of this saying very well. "Making the omelet" referred to the creation of the ideal world; "breaking a few eggs" referred to all that is described in my book "Hell on Earth." Our shattered family was one of millions of such eggs.]

" It is one thing to disrupt the status quo, to overthrow an unpopular and undemocratic regime. But that end does not necessarily lead to the establishment of a new, beneficent and participatory political structure. We see this time and time again, now in Putin's Russia, a century ago with the Russian Revolution, and over two centuries ago with the French Revolution.

6) Let me finish by quoting the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski. Referring to the Soviet Union, he wrote:
"Historians and others who, in later years, have sought to account for this unparalleled orgy of bloodshed and hypocrisy have posed questions that are not at all easy to answer. In the first place, what could be the reason for such destructive frenzy when, to all appearances, there was no real threat to Stalin or the regime, and every possible source of revolt within the party could easily have been wiped out without mass slaughter? In particular, how could this be explained when it seemed obvious that the wholesale destruction of senior cadres would fatally weaken the state, both militarily and economically?

Secondly, why was there a complete lack of resistance when all members of the population were threatened, even those who carried out the atrocities most devotedly? Many Soviet citizens had displayed military courage and had risked their lives in battle: why did no one raise a hand against the tyrant, why did all go willingly to the slaughter? Thirdly, granted that the victims of show trials were made to confess to non-existent crimes for propaganda reasons, why were such confessions extorted from hundreds of thousands or millions of lesser people of whom no one would ever hear? Why the tremendous effort to induce unknown victims to sign fantastic admissions which would be buried in police files and not used for any public purpose? The fourth question has to do with the acceptance of the Soviet ideology by many Western intellectuals."

These questions, and other related topics, are certainly worth debating, and not only in Russia.