Socialist People’s Front of Lithuania: „The historical lessons of the Great October and the contemporary tasks of the international communist movement“
REPORT TO THE 2017 AUGUST 10-13 SCIENTIFIC-PRACTICAL CONFERENCE OF THE RCWP
while jointly commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Great October socialist revolution, we have an excellent opportunity not only to remember the historical lessons of this epoch-making event, but also to seriously consider the direct realities of today, the burning issues of the international communist movement.
Unlike the attempt of the Paris communards of 1871, the socialist revolution in Russia withstood the military pressure directed against it and for the first time in history, in the form of the Soviet power, established the dictatorship of the proletariat – the worker’s power, the state of the working people, which during the first decades of its existence not only succeeded in creating a material basis for the socialist society, but also to overcome the cruelest product of 20th century imperialist capitalism – hitlerite fascism – in open military confrontation.
This firtly confirmed the correctness of Lenin’s theory about the uneven development under the conditions of imperialism, as monopoly capitalism, which resulted in the possibility of a victorious socialist revolution not “simultaniously in all civilized countries”, as predicted by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the middle of the 19th century, but in “one country alone”, being the weak link in the international imperialist chain.
Simultaniously it was a practical confirmation of the leninist teaching concerning the party of a new type, as the vanguard of the working class, as its ideological and political guide. As when Russia underwent a revolutionary situation, in which “the lower classes don’t want” and the “higher classes are unable” to “live in the old way”, the RSDWP(b), led by Lenin, had merely 40-45 thousand members in its organizations, and yet succeeded in overthrowing the government of Alexander Kerensky, soon after mobilizing the popular masses, numbering in the millions, to an armed struggle for the Soviet power.
Hard years of civil war, of struggle against domestic reactionaries and the counter-revolutionary interventionists that came to their help, demonstrated the vitality of the Soviet power even under the most adverse conditions, in which, according to the so-called “Lithuanian Lenin”, Vincas Kapsukas, who personally participated in the October revolution, “no other power would have been able to hold out”. According to him, such difficult trials could only be overcome “only by such a government, which bases itself on the broad masses of workers and poor peasants, which defends their interests and attentively listens to their voice”.
“Complete equality of rights for all nations; the right of nations to self-determination’ the unity of workers of all nations” – the Leninist stance on the national question demonstrated the internationalist spirit of Soviet Russia and the Bolshevik party, inspiring the small nations of the Russian empire to turn their struggles of national liberation in the direction of socialist revolution.
Lithuania and the Lithuanian people were no exception to this – many Lithuanians, evacuated to Russia or mobilized into the Russian army during the imperialist war, “after the February revolution of 1917 widely engaged in Russia’s working class’s struggle, led by the Bolsheviks against the bourgeois Provisional government”.
“National identity doesn’t contradict socialism, unless it becomes a tool of the exploiters” – so Kapsukas thought the Lithuanians, but this couldn’t hinder bourgeois nationalists, who were opposed to the revolution, from lying and defaming the October revolution, so seeking “to draw Lithuanian working people away from the revolutionary struggle going on in Russia” for the sake of creating “a bourgeois Lithuania, dominated by an exploitative Lithuanian bourgeoisie”.
However, the Lithuanian bourgeoisie, “while in each step shouting about being Lithuanian, about national identity and independence” – by supporting the German imperialists, who occupied Lithuania, “showed by its own actions, how worthless was its demagoguery. In the name of holy private property it sacrificed the true independence of Lithuania” ” – so the situation was summarized by the seasoned leader of Lithuania’s communists, Antanas Sniečkus.
Meanwhile during the VI congress of the RSDWP(b) the Lithuanian Bolsheviks, who had “around 2 thousand members” in the ranks of their organizations, before and during the October events “explained that the Lithuanian nation will only be able to achieve its freedom with the victory of the socialist revolution in Russia, which shall wipe the enemies of the people’s freedom and independence from the face of the earth”.
All these circumstances “empowered the workers, toiling peasants and labour intelligentsia of Lithuania, who’ve in 1918 returned from Russia to Lithuania […] to expand the struggle for the establishment of Soviet power in Lithuania”. At the end of Summer of the same year, “under the influence of the October revolution”, according to the famous Lithuanian Bolshevik Zigmas Angarietis, by the initiative of Lithuanian revolutionary social democrats who’ve came back from Russia, the Communist Party of Lithuania was founded.
The proletarian revolution quickly reached our country. On December 16, 1918, during a mass demonstration in Vilnius, Vincas Kapsukas read the manifesto of the Provisional revolutionary government of workers and poor peasants, which declared the German occupation and local bourgeois government overthrown and the transition of all power “to the hands of the councils of the representatives of Lithuania’s workers, landless and small landed peasants”.
Soon after, in the December of 1918 and January of 1919, the Soviet power “reached its widest expanse and overtook the whole land”, pushing out the nationalistic Lithuanian bourgeois, which was supported by the German occupational forces. However, sadly the revolution in Lithuania was defeated. The main reason for this was the “advantage” of the “counterrevolutionary military forces”, which were mostly constituted by German and Polish interventionists, “over the revolutionary ones”.
As could be expected, this honourable page of the history of Lithuania and the Lithuanian nation in bourgeois historiography is either nakedly falsified, alleging that the revolution was brought “to Lithuania on the tips of Red army bayonets”, or is simply forgotten. However, the lessons remain, and the bastion of the revolution, which was Russia, transformed itself into the Soviet Union.
The transformation happened in a storm of blood and steel, thus demonstrating, “that without the most persistent bloody struggle nowhere can the socialist order be realized”, because the exploiters “will not nicely agree to renounce the sources of their profits”. It confirmed the thesis of Marx and Engels that the ends of the communists “can only be obtained by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions”.
Probably the brightest historical lesson of the USSR, as the direct consequence of the October revolution, is the practical proof, that labour can live without capital, that the workers are able to organize their lives, according to Joseph Stalin, “without the bourgeoisie and against the bourgeoisie” – this is particularly relevant, having in mind the bourgeois myth about the alleged “eternity” of capitalism.
Such, among others, are the historical lessons of the October revolution.
However, the collapse of the USSR, and together with it the world socialist system in the last decade of the 20th century, the global counterrevolution, in the wake of which “the positions of international communism were lost”, opened the door to an “era of the blackest reaction”, foreseen by Stalin in the case of the fall of the Soviet power back in 1926.
In this light the question concerning the causes for the USSR’s collapse engages us as one of the most burning theoretical questions for the international communist movement, the correct resolution of which is to be considered a necessary condition for its recovery. Nonetheless, it is a problem that’s rarely touched upon – often the debate is limited to shouts against Mikhail Gorbachev’s treason.
It is necessary to understand, that the counterrevolution was more than a mere conspiracy or a traitorous act of the CPSU’s leadership, but rather the result of long-term processes. Its common, and not without good reason, to refer to the policies of Nikita Khrushchev and the CPSU’s XX congress as the “beginning of the end – however these tendencies also didn’t fall from the heavens, but rather matured during the Stalinist period.
Marx specified, that “socialism is the declaration of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat” until the final abolition of class differences in communism. The class struggle, emphasized Lenin, even “after the overthrow of capitalist rule” and “after the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat”, does not “disappear”, but changes its forms, becoming even fiercer.
Sadly, these truths, expounded by the classics of Marxism, were foreign concepts to the CPSU, which went on the path of krushchevite revisionism, after its 20th and particularly 22nd congresses. In addition to the negation of proletarian dictatorship, the so-called destalinization and the doctrine of “peaceful coexistence” also went the attempt to solve the problems of socialism through capitalist methods, thus practically undermining the system of central planning as well as democratic centralism, in favour of the bureaucratic strata.
It was precisely this privileged bureaucracy, which grew out of the Communist party itself, sort of a “socialist bourgeoisie”, which constituted the social base of the counterrevolution that won in the 1990’s. Lenin, who foresaw the danger of bureaucratism, while writing the 1919 programme of the RCP(b), encouraged fighting against it by involving “all the working people” into the job of managing the state.
The premise for such a fight – the Soviet power – which at first determined the organization of the state apparatus, both local and central, “from the bottom up”, making the main cell of the state not a territorial unit, but rather the productive one (factories and other working places), the true form of governance of “the proletariat, organized as the ruling class”, became merely a verbal formality after the passing of the 1936 USSR Constitution.
Nonetheless, Stalin correctly affirmed, that socialism, just as capitalism, has “objective laws, reflecting processes of economic development”, among them being the law of balanced development of the national economy provides the planning bodies with the possibility of correctly planning social production, but that possibility does not necessarily mean actuality.
The question of how to transform this possibility into a reality, together with the preservation of a “bottom up” structure of the governing bodies – these are essential questions, connected with the general problem of the causes for the collapse of the USSR, which are no less important than the experience of the Paris commune was for Marx and Engels, which will have a determining practical importance for the creation of a new socialism in the future.
No less important is the question concerning the situation and prospects of development of contemporary imperialism – without knowledge of this it’ll be impossible to develop a common strategy for the international communist movement.
Open anti-communists, as well as “leftist” opportunists like the bourgeois theories of the “post-industrial” or “information-based” societies, while speaking about the alleged “dying out” of class struggle, while referring to those “respectable”, according to Marx, show-case forms which capitalism acquires within the great imperialist states.
However, the “profound hypocrisy of bourgeois civilization”, the open capitalist barbarity fully reveals itself, when we observe it “turning from its home” to “the colonies, where it goes naked”. In the light of the facts of the 21st century, these words, written by Marx in 1853, as relevant as never before.
780 million people lack access to clean drinking water; 2.5 billion lack basic sanitation, at least 3.5 million children die of famine each year and eight persons hold greater wealth than 3.6 billion people, half the world’s population. Furthermore, 88% of millionaires in the world are located in the most developed capitalist-imperialist countries (46% percent being in the USA alone). Whereas in the 19th century the wealth inequality between the richest and poorest countries was equal 3:1, at the end of the 20th century it was already equal 74:1.
This confirms the Leninist thesis concerning the “unevenness of economic and political development” as an “absolute law of capitalism”, that determined today the ever sharpening global divide into the “rentier-states”, marked, according to Lenin, by “the seal of parasitism“, which are inhabited by the so called worldwide “golden billion”, and the multi-billion masses of impoverished humanity in the countries of the so-called Third world.
The consequence of this is a strata of “aristocracy among the working class”, that has succeeded in acquiring “a relatively comfortable position”, a strata of “workers-turned-bourgeois”, that has developed through helping its “own” imperialist bourgeoisie to conquer and strangle the whole world for the sake of better pay for themselves, which is “afraid of sacrifices” and thus alien to the interests of the proletariat.
That’s why, among other reasons, any Marxist organization ought to objectively evaluate it’s country’s place in this pyramid of global imperialism and set itself according tasks and tactics – otherwise further stagnation and disappointing pseudo-revolutionary expectations, or opportunist deviations are to be expected.
Finally, the unreserved capitalist thirst for wealth is gradually leading the world towards ecological catastrophe – this is not only a relevant question, deserving profound investigation, but also a mortal problem for the whole of humanity, the solution of which, even by admission of bourgeois scientists, is not possible under the conditions of a capitalist economic order. The establishment of socialism becomes a necessary condition for the very preservation of humanity.
Of course, in contemporary imperialism the dominant factor, having exceeded even the monopolies that controlled the nation-states, is global finance capital, entangling the whole world in its net. But here too a gradual inter-imperialist competition is developing between the NATO-EU and BRICS, the rise of the so-called multipolar world, leading towards the decline of US imperialism.
Seeing the relatively positive world-historical role of the BRICS countries in undermining the US hegemony, that was uncontested since the fall of the USSR, we must not let ourselves be deceived and understand, that this competition is nothing more, than a ripening struggle between the imperialists, USA-NATO-EU and BRICS, for “a more “just” redistribution of slaves”.
In this respect it’s important to give a strong answer to the opportunism, having assumed the form of “red putinism”, which spreads the illusion about the alleged “progressiveness” of BRICS, it supposedly being an “alternative” to the present global configuration. Anything else would determine the inevitable decay of a communist or workers party towards right-wing opportunism, towards service to its “own” or “foreign” imperialist bourgeoisie.
Also important is the question concerning pseudo-scientific views regarding the question of the sexes that have infiltrated the international communist movement, particularly in the Western countries. Specifically, the so called “gender” and “gender identity” theories, which base themselves not on materialist dialectics, but rather subjective idealism, denying the objective biological nature of the sexes. There is great need for a concrete Marxist response to these views, which cringe in front of the decadent culture of the imperialist world.
These are merely several, out of very many burning theoretical questions, which touch the practice of today’s communists – Lenin’s teaching, that “without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement”, however, as “practice gropes in the dark” without revolutionary theory, so does “theory become purposeless, if not connected with revolutionary practice”.
We also ought to seriously consider the practical questions of the international communist movement, the most important of which is the unification of Marxist parties under a common ideological-political platform and common coordination of actions. The reaction of an actually working international movement of communist and workers parties, shortly, the creation of a new International.
Such unification, while defining concrete political and ideological criteria, as its positive content, at the same time presupposes separation with the forces that do not meet, furthermore, contradict, these criteria. In this case it means the necessity of “a complete break with opportunism”, uniting all parties, which stand on the foundation of revolutionary Marxism.
The leading role in the execution of such a task, undoubtedly, would fall upon the strongest Communist parties of Europe and the world, especially the Communist Party of Greece, which, both through its theoretical work, as well as practical activities not only on a national, but also international level, has made and continues to make a priceless contribution to the common cause of the international communist movement.
Such common participation both in words, as well as in deeds, would be the truest internationalist duty of all active Marxists. However, as Antanas Sniečkus emphasized, “there can be no talk about the execution of internationalist duties, without fighting for the solution of national tasks”, – therefore we’ll also shortly talk about the situation in Lithuania.
In our country there aren’t any truly massive, spontaneous opposition movements at the moment. With the country’s entrance into the EU and it occupying an intermediate position in the global imperialist pyramid, around 1 million inhabitants have emigrated to Western Europe (out of a population that numbered 3.6 million in 1990), thus “channelling out” any greater protest potential – particularly the youth, that constitutes over 50% of those who have emigrated. Whereas the reception of EU funds that will continue until 2020 helps the ruling class to relatively stabilize the domestic situation, in spite of increasing poverty and inequality.
The trade union movement is weak and passive, with the greater part of it being subjected to the control of the bourgeois Social Democratic Party of Lithuania. Movements of a progressive patriotic, anti-capitalist or anti-imperialist character and their protests are relatively weak in numbers and lack a unified ideological direction, whereas the only Marxist party, that operated in Lithuania, the Socialist People’s Front, due to persistent opportunism and revisionism in the leadership has underwent a schism, with those party members, who remain loyal to revolutionary Marxist principles, continuing the original line of the socialist party, as the true inheritors of its legacy.
In the light of these conditions, our national duty is to gather together and organize all convinced Marxists of Lithuania into a new Marxist organization, which will keep its ranks clean of all manifestations of opportunism and revisionism, which will establish connections with the more militant representatives of the trade union movement and generally, with the radical opposition, and carry out consistent and constant educational and propaganda work, spreading the ideas of Marxism-Leninism in our country.
In all our activities, on a national or international level, let’s always remember, what the American communist journalist, John Reed, specified as “the only reason for Bolshevik success”, precisely the fact of them “accomplishing the vast and simple desires of the most profound strata of the people, calling them to the work of tearing down and destroying the old, and afterward, in the smoke of falling ruins, cooperating with them to erect the frame-work of the new”.
Finding the ways to knowing and realizing such aspirations – that is the premise for the recovery and long-term success of the international communist movement. So, having in mind the historical lessons and understanding our practical tasks, let’s go to work, firmly carrying the red flag of the Great October ideals until the final victory.
FOR WORLDWIDE SOCIALISM AND COMMUNISM!
PROLETARIANS OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!
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 Ibid, p. 213, 214.
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