The fall of European Stalinism: Workers' Liberty 3/25

Timeline

Chronology

1979

December: USSR invades Afghanistan, where it fears that the pro-USSR government is about to be defeated by traditionalist and Islamist rebellion. The invasion becomes “Russia’s Vietnam war”.

1980–1

Mass workers’ movement, Solidarnosc, erupts in Poland. It is banned after a military coup in December 1981, but continues to exist underground.

1985

Chronology

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Introduction

It is 20 years since the destruction of the Berlin Wall by the people of then divided Germany signalled that Russia’s control over Eastern Europe was collapsing. Russia had held Eastern Europe in a brutal grip for four and a half decades, since the end of the Second World War.

It had used the most brutal and bloody methods of imperialist control to maintain that grip. In East Germany in 1953, in Hungary in 1956, and in Czechoslovakia in 1968 it used as much military force as was required to beat down revolt against old-style Stalinist, and Russian, rule.

Introduction to Workers' Liberty 3/25, "The fall of European Stalinism".

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The risen people: Eastern Europe after the revolutions

We have seen a tremendous series of revolutions in Eastern Europe, the latest in Romania during Christmas week [1989]. At the beginning of the week the Ceaucescus were in full control. By its end they lay crumpled like rag dolls, dead beside a bullet-marked wall.

People after people has risen in revolt against the dictatorship of Stalinist bureaucrats — Poles, Germans, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Bulgarians — and sloughed off the dictators like so much dead and putrid skin.

A tremendous series of revolutions in Eastern Europe, the latest in Romania during Christmas week [1989]...

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What was in the coffin at the funeral of socialism? (1990)

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Sean Matgamna

BOURGEOIS propagandists and ex-Stalinists alike tell us that we are witnessing the end of socialism. Socialism is dying of shame, failure and self disgust before our eyes in Eastern Europe. Socialism has been tried and is now deservedly rejected as an all-round social and historical failure.

It is rejected most explicitly by the working class who, for example, gave the right the bulk of its vote in last month’s East German election.

What collapsed when European Stalinism collapsed?

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The Lies Against Socialism Answered

“But socialism is dead, darling!” This was one response on the street to the front page of Socialist Organiser with the headline: ‘Stand up for socialism’ And there were many similar responses, sad as well as gleeful.

For sure, if the Stalinist systems were any sort of socialism, then socialism is dead, and it deserves to be dead. It was rotten and stinking for decades before its recent outright collapse.

But Stalinism was not socialism. It was the opposite of socialism.

What the collapse of European Stalinism says and does not say about Socialism: the lies against socialism answered

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4. Stalin’s system collapses

The system Stalin built in the old Tsarist empire has collapsed irretrievably. The USSR is collapsing, too: most of its republics have now declared themselves independent. In most of those republics the “Communist Party of the Soviet Union” has either been banned outright, or banned from activity in the army and the KGB, and in factories.

The astonishing ease with which the Stalinist system finally fell asunder has few parallels in history.

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5. Why socialists should support the banning of the CPSU

Immediately after the August coup in Moscow, Boris Yeltsin and his friends turned the Russian parliament into a veritable revolutionary committee which, backed by the people, took measures it had no legal power to take, to break up the old order.

Immediately after the August coup in Moscow, Boris Yeltsin and his friends turned the Russian parliament into a veritable revolutionary committee which, backed by the people, took measures it had no legal power to take, to break up the old order.

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The triumph of unreason in the ex-USSR

What is happening in the former USSR now is a grotesque triumph of unreason. In its destructiveness and senselessness, it will rank in history with the carnage of the First and Second World Wars as an almost inexplicable piece of 20th century madness.

At the behest of men like Boris Yeltsin and other ex-Stalinists, men who have been through their whole lives members of the corrupt old Stalinist ruling class, nearly 300 million people are now being pitched into the maelstrom of deliberately created or intensified economic chaos.

Nearly 300 million people pitched by Yeltsin into the maelstrom of economic chaos

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What was the Bolsheviks’ conception of the 1917 revolution?

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

Click here for the series on The Roots of Bolshevism of which this article is part
By Sean Matgamna
[An Introduction to "Trotsky's 3 Conceptions...". Both were published in Socialist Organiser at the time of the collapse of Stalinist Russia.]

The erstwhile rulers of the Stalinist system — which they said was the realisation of socialism — are now working openly for the restoration of capitalism. So are most of those they rule, and in the first place the working class.

Whatever label you gave them — degenerated and deformed workers’ states, bureaucratic collectivist, state-capitalist — the Stalinist societies continued to have the essential relationship to the world capitalist economy heralded by Stalin with his notion of building “socialism in one country”.

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