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Year 2009 No. 75, December 14, 2009 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

Gordon Brown and the Berlin Wall:

Accusing Others of the Crimes Committed by Imperialism

Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :

Gordon Brown and the Berlin Wall:
Accusing Others of the Crimes Committed by Imperialism

Defend the Advance of the Peoples in the 20th Century

Vigils for 100th British Soldier Killed in Afghanistan in 2009

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Gordon Brown and the Berlin Wall:

Accusing Others of the Crimes Committed by Imperialism

On November 10, Prime Minister Gordon Brown delivered a speech at the Brandenburg Gate at the events commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Like other world leaders gathered on that occasion, Gordon Brown aimed to give his own interpretation of recent world history based on the Eurocentric values of the Anglo-American imperialists and the other big powers. One of the main aims of Brown’s speech was to present the view that whatever the nature of the struggles waged by people around the world, they must all culminate in the goal of multipartyism and the neo-liberal economic order, the political and economic system defended might and main by the Anglo-Americans, which is continually presented as the apogee of human achievement.

When Brown claimed that the events in Berlin twenty years ago demonstrated that “history is moving towards are best hopes, not our worst fears, towards light and not darkness, towards the fulfilment of our humanity”, this is exactly what he had in mind.

At the same time such an assertion by Brown was an attempt to turn history on its head, to completely rewrite the events of the 20th century, to deny the advances that have been made, particularly those connected with the struggle for the revolutionary transformation of society and the construction of socialism in the Soviet Union and other countries during the last century.

The events that occurred in Germany, as well as throughout Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, over twenty years ago may well be a cause for celebration by the leading representatives of the big powers but they have not solved any of the problems facing the working class and people of those countries. By 1989 the Soviet Union and its allies were already integrated into the imperialist system of states and heavily indebted to the big powers. The solution that was presented to the people of those countries; neo-liberal globalisation, privatisation and so-called free trade, representative democracy and the cartel system of political parties, was one which kept wealth and power in the hands of the few. This was the content of the “new world order” established by the “Charter of Paris for a New Europe” in November 1990 whose values would supposedly now hold sway. However, what was urgently required was the democratic renewal of society, which would place the majority at the centre as the decision makers and build a modern people-centred society to cater for their needs.

The struggles of the people of Germany and other countries for empowerment and social emancipation were turned into their opposites while the anti-social offensive that was then launched against them led to the wholesale destruction of the social programmes that had formerly existed in many countries in Eastern Europe. The fall of the Berlin Wall has not therefore brought the freedom and democracy that was so loudly trumpeted by the reactionary media and politicians at the time, but rather all the economic, social and political problems facing the rest of Europe. Massive double-digit unemployment and other economic problems have plagued Germany, despite its big power status, while the other countries of Eastern Europe have been economically dominated by foreign capital and many of their workers have been forced to become migrant workers abroad.

Gordon Brown’s sanctimonious words about the “achievement” of the people of Berlin cannot hide the fact that little has been achieved in terms of the political and economic empowerment, and the democratic renewal so urgently required not only in Germany but also throughout Europe and most of the rest of the world. For Brown however, this “achievement” is connected with the creation of a “united Europe”, with Britain at its heart, which will allegedly “advance prosperity not for some but for all”, a vision of the big monopolies which is both reactionary and impossible under present conditions.

Brown’s comments about the “tide of history” and people power once again show that great efforts are being made to rewrite and falsify history, to disorient people and deny the nature of historical change, to claim that there is no alternative to global capitalism. The aim is to bury the history of the working class, its struggles and victories and the role of 20th century communism in providing the solutions that faced humanity at that time. To accept the anti-communist offensive of Gordon Brown and other representatives of those who wish to block the progress of society means to accept that history has come to an end, and that the oppression, injustice, barbarism and war of imperialism must remain. It is vital that the workers and all thinking people reject such falsification, investigate and draw the appropriate lessons from history, and continue their fight in the 21st century for the democratic ideals of liberation and renewal upheld by progressive humanity.

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Defend the Advance of the Peoples in the 20th Century

Taken from an article in The Marxist-Leninist, Daily On-Line Newspaper of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), November 20, 2009

The Soviet Union since the mid-seventies and especially during the later years of the 1980s was in serious economic crisis as were the countries in Eastern Europe. The Cold War arms race and the war in Afghanistan (1979-1989) had sapped the financial and moral limits of an empire that could no longer mask the fiction that it was a socialist state of the working class. The forces that seized control of the Soviet state in the late 1950s and '60s were either bitter opponents of the Soviet working class, democratic renewal and the socialist legacy of social programmes, or totally incapable of opening society's path to progress. The mentors and heroes of Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and the last head of state of the USSR, from 1988 until its disintegration in 1991 were those capitalist leaders actively organising the neo-liberal anti-social offensive such as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain and US President Ronald Reagan.

The rulers who had seized power in the Soviet Union had long upheld their bourgeois right to a greater claim on social product than the working class. This was effected through a widening inequality of wages and salaries and growing privilege based on position within the socialised economy, state and Communist Party. Widening inequality of wages and salaries and a culture of privilege and impunity based on position led to an aim amongst the ruling class to restore capitalist ownership of socialised property in state law and official practice. An obstacle to legal private ownership of socialised property was the psychology of the Soviet Union's working class that socialised property could not be alienated, that socialised property was the people's property, a common asset held collectively through the state and guaranteed by its laws and constitution.

For Gorbachev and other anti-working class Soviet leaders the problem was to break the psychology of communism and a sense or expectation built up over the decades of socialism that working class rights were poised not to be negated but expanded and fulfilled through democratic renewal. Leaders throughout the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe knew that workers' expectations of social programmes and their sense of rights as inherent to being human, and their demand that their rights be fulfilled in practice could explode into a rebellion for democratic renewal to vest sovereignty in the working class and build their nations anew with a pro-social alternative. For the ruling elites, the possibility of a movement for democratic renewal had to be sabotaged. The anticipation of a movement for democratic renewal was compounded by the reality that US and European imperialism wanted a disintegration of the Soviet Union under their leadership to put its vast human and natural resources under their control.

The Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact of Eastern Europe by 1989 were already integrated within the imperialist system of states. A few examples illustrate the growing hold of the international financial oligarchy on their socialised economies, which were not unique. By 1979, Poland alone owed $20 billion to US, European and Japanese finance capital for which debt-service costs consumed up to 80 percent of its export earnings. Ten years later, Poland needed $2 billion in annual export earnings just to pay the interest on its debt. To service its external debt to the West, Hungary needed $1 billion, and debt across the countries of the Warsaw Pact owned by West European centres of finance capital had reached $90 billion. The US and European imperialists wanted political changes in Eastern Europe to mirror their already substantial economic stranglehold.

Gorbachev and others within the Soviet elite decided that a controlled collapse of the Soviet Union and its European allies was the only solution to break the communist psychology of the working class, forestall a working class rebellion because of the economic crisis and the people's desire for democratic renewal, and block an uncontrolled collapse that could possibly lead either to democratic renewal or a takeover by competing imperialists. Others within the Soviet leadership opposed the controlled collapse of the Soviet Union, as they were certain that it would lead to a disintegration of their empire, especially within Europe but by 1989 that section of the leadership had lost power and the controlled collapse was underway. Neo-liberal globalisation and capitulation to the imperialist centres of Europe, the United States and Japan were presented as solutions to the economic and political crisis. This was similar in many ways to today's phony neo-liberal solutions to the current economic and political crisis such as working class concessions, starving social programmes of funds, paying the rich and capitalist democracy dominated and controlled by a cartel system of political parties of the owners of capital and their political allies.

The fall of the Soviet Union and its allies unleashed an anti-social offensive that was thoroughly planned by the ruling elite, both its objective and subjective aspects. The masses were subjected to a non-stop barrage of anti-communist propaganda extolling the virtues of a neo-liberal agenda of privatisation, destruction of social programmes, free trade, a European Union of the monopolies, NATO membership as liberation and peace, and the creation of a super-rich class of parasites from whom wealth would eventually "trickle down" to the masses.

The objective features of the anti-social offensive were characterised by an orgy of feasting on socialised property as it was transferred into official legal private property of a few. This was coordinated with an attack on all social programmes that upheld the Soviet-standard of living, especially security of livelihoods, wages, benefits and pensions. The neo-liberal agenda blamed social programmes for the economic crisis and swore that their destruction and the creation of a labour market, "managed risk" within a capitalist economy based on competition and controlled by parasites, and a sense of insecurity of personal being and outlook of "fend for yourself" would unleash the people's initiative and eventually bring a semblance of prosperity at least for some. What followed was an unparalleled collapse of living standards on all fronts unseen in human history. The plunder of socialised property together with a massive decrease in spending on social programmes and collapse of the value of the ruble and other currencies resulted in a massive shift of wealth from the working class to owners of monopoly capital. This was the breakthrough the ruling elite had planned. Once the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 it went from a country dominated by bourgeois right and its inequality of wages and living standards, to a Russia of monopoly right to plunder the entire socialised economy and own and control it directly, all legally sanctioned by the Russian state. This disaster for the working class and many in the middle strata was presented as a solution to the economic crisis and democratic renewal but the reality was the opposite: a prolonged period of economic chaos and disintegration and downward spiral until a bottom was reached and for Russia at least oil prices began to rise sharply more than 12 years later. The collapse of the Soviet Union and its former allies did not lead to democratic renewal but to a consolidation of the dictatorship of the monopoly capitalist class and for most of the countries of Eastern Europe their integration within the imperialist system of states controlled by the US and the most powerful states of Europe, an imperialist system fraught with dangerous conflicts and potential for war, as already witnessed in the former Yugoslavia and Georgia.

The collapse of the Soviet Union was engineered by the Soviet ruling class to smash any remnant of communist psychology amongst the masses and prepare conditions for the privatisation of socialised property, elimination of social programmes, to sabotage any rebellion of the working class and its allies for democratic renewal and to forestall an uncontrolled collapse that could have led to a takeover of Russia by competing imperialists.

The controlled collapse of the Soviet Union oversaw a massive transfer of social wealth and claims on social product from the working class and many within the middle strata to the de facto owners of Russian monopoly capital. Most of the ruling elite remained in place after the fall and became part of a financial oligarchy. The anti-social offensive in the Soviet Union was modelled on the neo-liberal shock therapy of Thatcher but for the rich elite was wildly more successful in a relative sense. It destroyed the expectations of the Russian people for the social programmes that had become their right and the psychology that was growing that people have rights by virtue of being human. It destroyed the movement towards democratic renewal that had been rumbling and simmering throughout the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The collapse of the Soviet Union put behind it the traditional social programmes of socialism and dumped on the people the cold cruel reality of state monopoly capitalism.

Article Index



Vigils for 100th British Soldier Killed in Afghanistan in 2009

On December 7, a soldier of 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment died after an incident in central Helmand Province in the afternoon. He was the 100th British soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2009. In the next few days, vigils were held in many cities and towns across Britain, including Newcastle, Sunderland, Rochdale and Lewisham.

Naming of the Dead Newcastle Naming of the Dead Newcastle
Naming of the Dead Newcastle-upon-Tyne

At the Naming of the Dead Vigil at the Newcastle Monument on the evening of December 9, a representative of the Tyneside Stop the War Coalition asked, “Why have 100 soldiers died in Afghanistan this year?” In a short address, he said:

“The hundredth British soldier to die in Afghanistan this year has been killed because Gordon Brown and the other big parties refuse to learn the lessons of history: that the people of Afghanistan and other countries that they invade will never accept occupation by foreign powers. The people of Britain want to play a role as peacemakers in the world and not warmongers. Their demand is to remove British troops from foreign soil. They want an anti-war government not a pro-war government. Gordon Brown says that Lance Corporal Alan Drane, 23, the 100th dead soldier this year, died to safeguard Britain against terrorist attack. But no Afghan has ever attacked Britain, or any other country. Britain has invaded Afghanistan many times. It is Britain's role, alongside the US, that is the real threat to peace and security in the world.

“By increasing the number of British troops sent to kill and be killed in Afghanistan to over 10,000, Gordon Brown has condemned many more soldiers and countless Afghans to die in this unjustified war.

“Bring the Troops Home!

“Fight for an Anti-war Government!”

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