150 years ago, on April 21, 1870, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, alias Lenin, was born. According to many, he was the greatest revolutionary of all times, a man who gave birth to both internationalism and anti-imperialism.
It is time to “revisit Communism”. It is also time to ask some basic, essential questions:
How is it possible that a system so logical, progressive, and so superior to what is, up till now, governing the world, failed to permanently overthrow the nihilism and brutality of capitalism, imperialism and neo-colonialism?
Without any doubt, you have been told many horrifying things about Communism, especially if you have been living in the West, or in one of the countries that are fully under the control of the centres of anti-Communism: Washington, London or Paris.
You have been forced to read, again and again, about “Stalinism”, the Tiananmen Square massacre, and the Khmer Rouge genocide. You have, again and again, been served an elaborate cocktail of half-truths, outright fabrications, as well as twisted interpretations of the world history.
The chances are you have never been to Russia, China or Cambodia; you haven’t done any serious research there.
You have been told that Cambodia is the best example of savage Communism. You never realized that Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge extremists were fully supported by the United States, and not by the Soviet Union and never foolheartedly by China; that they were never actually really “Communist” (I did a detailed in-country research, and even Pol Pot’s personal guards told me that they had no idea about Communism, and only reacted to the monstrous U.S. carpet bombing of the Cambodian countryside, and to the capital’s collaboration with the West). In that period, most people died as a result of precisely that carpet-bombing by the USAF B-52’s, and as a result of a famine. And the famine came after millions of peasants were displaced by the savagery of the bombing, and by the unexploded substances left in the fields, all over the countryside.
It never occurred to you, that one survey after another, conducted in Russia, still shows that the majority of the people there would like to have the Communist Soviet Union back. And even in the former Soviet Muslim-majority states, including Kirgizstan and Uzbekistan, a tremendous majority of the people I encountered there remembered the Soviet Union era as some golden age.
And the so-called Soviet occupation of Afghanistan? I have worked, filmed and reported there, on three occasions, relatively recently. Outraged by the on-going Western occupation of their country, countless Afghan people told me stories, illustrating the contrast between their tolerant, progressive and optimistic socialist era, and the present-day horror, during which their country has sunk to the lowest level in Asia, according to both UNDP and the WHO. I worked in Kabul, Jalalabad, Herat, Bagram; the same stories, and the same nostalgia for the Soviet teachers, nurses, engineers.
Showered by the relentless Western propaganda, one never really realized how popular the Communist Party of China is in its own country, and how the Communist ideology is supported in Vietnam, Laos and North Korea.
If one goes to their friendly local bookstore in North America, Europe or even in Hong Kong, not to speak of Australia, the chances are is that all one will find there would be tomes written by anti-Communist Chinese or Russian ‘dissidents’, people that have been living off Western grants, receiving countless awards so they can spend all their energy on smearing Communism, and glorifying anti-revolution. Writers such as Svetlana Alexievich, who received the Nobel Prize for literature, for spitting on the graves of the Soviet soldiers who died defending Afghan socialism.
Films one would be allowed to watch, on commercial film channels, would not be any different than the books one had been encouraged to read.
Anti-Communism in the West and in its colonies, is a tremendous industry. It is easily the greatest and on-going propaganda campaign in the history of the world. Its metastasis has been spreading even into the core of the Communist and socialist countries themselves.
All of that is because the Western imperialist countries know perfectly well that their empire can only survive if Communism collapses.
It is because the very essence of Communism is the perpetual struggle against imperialism.
False but very effective slogans, like bugs, that are being implanted into one’s brains. They are repeated constantly, sometimes hundreds of times a day, without one even noticing: “Communism is dead!” you have been told. “It is outdated, boring.” “China is not Communist, anymore.” “Communism is grey. Life under communism is controlled, and it is monotonous”. “People under Communism have no freedom, and no liberties.”
The opposite is the truth. Building, selfishly and enthusiastically, a new and better society for the people, is definitely more satisfactory (and “more fun”), than rotting in the constant agony of fear: worrying about mortgages, student loans, and medical emergencies. Competing with others, stepping on others, and even ruining other human beings. Living empty, sad, selfish lives.
Absurdly, paradoxically, Western propaganda constantly accuses Communism of violence. But Communism is the biggest adversary of the most violent system on Earth, which is Western colonialism/ imperialism. Hundreds of millions of human beings have already vanished as a result of it, throughout the centuries. Hundreds of advanced cultures have been ruined. Entire continents have been plundered.
Before Soviet Communism, before the USSR itself, there was no true and powerful opposition to Western imperialism. Colonialism and imperialism were taken for granted; they were “the world order”.
The Soviet Union and China helped to de-colonize the world. Cuba and North Korea, two Communist countries, fought bravely and successfully, and brought independence to Africa (something that the West has never forgotten nor forgiven).
But fighting for freedom and for the end of colonialism is not violence; it is defence, resistance and a struggle for independence.
As a rule, Communism does not attack. It defends itself, and it defends countries that are being brutalised. In my future work, I will address two “exceptions”; and explain two cases which are constantly misinterpreted by right-wing propaganda: Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
But back to the so-called “Communist violence”.
My friend and comrade, the legendary Russian intellectual and professor, Aleksandr Buzgalin, wrote in his recent work, “Lenin: Theory as Practice, Practice as Creativity (to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of V.I. Ulyanov-Lenin):
There is a principle at work here: it is not the socialist revolution that provokes mass violence, but the bourgeois counter-revolution, that begins when capital realises that it is losing its property and power. In response to the generally peaceful and in many cases legitimate victory of the left, capital unleashes savage, barbaric violence. The left is then faced with the question of whether to answer this violence or not. If you go to war, then from that point the laws of war apply, and hundreds of thousands are sent to their deaths, planned in advance, so that millions might be victorious. That is the logic of war.
The revolution was carried through. It was victorious. In the broader perspective, the victors were not so much the Bolsheviks as the Soviets, in which the majority supported the Bolsheviks’ position. The revolution was substantially peaceful, prevailing almost without bloodshed. The fiercest fighting occurred in Moscow, where those killed on both sides numbered a few thousand. Beyond that, the picture was of a “triumphal procession of Soviet power” (this heading in Soviet textbooks was no accident). In the winter of 1917-1918 the relationship of forces saw half a million members of the workers’ militia, the Red Guard, pitted against a few tens of thousand White Guard members in the south of Russia. Everything was quiet until the counter-revolution received vast sums of money from the Triple Alliance (primarily from Germany) as well as from the Entente, and all these imperialist countries launched aggression against the young Soviet power.
This is a brilliant take by Aleksandr Buzgalin. I have addressed this topic on many occasions but never so coherently. And this applies to countless examples all over the world where the West first provoked and brutally antagonized socialist or communist countries, then accused them of cruelty, and finally “liberated” them in the name of freedom and democracy, literally raping the will of their people. All this just so European and North American imperialism would survive and thrive.
Let’s recall just a few examples: the USSR, 1965 Indonesia, 1973 Chile, 2019 Bolivia. The biggest attempt to date: to divert, destabilize and overthrow the enormously successful Chinese system. But there are, of course, countless other examples, in all corners of the globe.
Ron Unz, the publisher of The Unz Review, wrote in his report “American Pravda: Our Coronavirus Catastrophe as Bio-warfare Blowback?”, recalling his thoughts, in 1999, when China protested about the NATO bombing of its Embassy in Belgrade:
But when I considered that the Chinese government was still stubbornly denying the reality of its massacre of the protesting students in Tiananmen Square a decade earlier, I concluded that unreasonable behavior by PRC officials was only to be expected….
Such at least were my thoughts on that matter more than two decades ago. But in the years that followed, my understanding of the world and of many pivotal events of modern history underwent the sweeping transformations that I have described in my American Pravda series. And some of my 1990s assumptions were among them.
Consider, for example, the Tiananmen Square Massacre, which every June 4th still evokes an annual wave of harsh condemnations in the news and opinion pages of our leading national newspapers. I had never originally doubted those facts, but a year or two ago I happened to come across a short article by journalist Jay Matthews entitled “The Myth of Tiananmen” that completely upended that apparent reality.
According to Matthews the infamous massacre had likely never happened, but was merely a media artifact produced by confused Western reporters and dishonest propaganda, a mistaken belief that had quickly become embedded in our standard media storyline, endlessly repeated by so many ignorant journalists that they all eventually believed it to be true. Instead, as near as could be determined, the protesting students had all left Tiananmen Square peacefully, just as the Chinese government had always maintained. Indeed, leading newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post had occasionally acknowledged these facts over the years, but usually buried those scanty admissions so deep in their stories that few ever noticed. Meanwhile, the bulk of the mainstream media had fallen for an apparent hoax.
Matthews himself had been the Beijing Bureau Chief of the Washington Post, personally covering the protests at the time, and his article appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, our most prestigious venue for media criticism.
On top of it, what Western mainstream media was describing as a group of “freedom fighters” and “pro-democracy movement”, had a substantial number of radicals in its ranks, even outright racists, that were protesting against the presence of black Africans on Chinese university campuses. They demanded a ban on their relationships with the Chinese women. And they were fully supported and at least partially funded by the West, simply because of their savage, aggressive, fundamentalist anti-Communism.
The Chinese government does not even want to touch this subject, anymore. They feel that, faced with massive Western propaganda, they cannot get through with their take on the story; in brief, that they have lost the narrative.
Now fast-forward to 2019 and 2020. Hong Kong. Again, what we are witnessing there is outrageous and extremist anti-Communism. Fascist protesters that are marching, destroying public property, and attacking the Police, all under U.S, U.K and German banners, are hailed by the Western mass media as “pro-democracy activists”. They are physically attacking the supporters of Beijing. They are paid, they are glorified. I have talked to them on many occasions. They are fully, thoroughly brainwashed. They know nothing about facts. They deny the crimes committed by the British and the U.S. colonialists. They admire everything Western, and they despise their own country.
The West has been told to view them as “revolutionaries”. And it promotes them as revolutionaries, all over the world!
Another group unleashed against the Communist China, are the Uyghurs. Many of these people have joined terrorist organizations in Idlib, Syria, in Indonesia, and elsewhere. Or more precisely, they were injected there. The reason? To harden them on the battlefields, so that they could one day return to China, and try to break Communism, as well as the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), the most internationalist mammoth project on Earth. I have covered their activities in Syria, Indonesia, Turkey and elsewhere. I have written extensively about the atrocities they have been committing. But the anti-Communist propaganda is often too massive and too “professional”. It manufactures a “bullet-proof narrative”. It portrays the Uyghurs as the victims!
Ask the common men and women of the streets of London, Paris or New York, what they know about Stalin’s era, or the famines in the early years of the USSR, or in Communist China?
99.99% know nothing. Where these famines took place, or why. But they are absolutely certain that they took place. No doubts, whatsoever. No doubts that they happened “because of Communism”. Westerners are intellectually obedient, like sheep. Most of them do not question the propaganda unleashed by their regime. Are they really “free”?
The famine in the Soviet Union actually took place because the young revolutionary country was totally devastated by the Western and Japanese invasions, which tried to break and plunder the country. British, French, U.S., Czech, Polish, German, Japanese invasions, to name just a few.
But ask, for instance, the Czechs, how much they know about their Legions that controlled the Trans-Siberian railroad on their way from Europe to Vladivostok. Plundering, rape, and mass killing. I tried. I asked in Prague and Pilsen. They thought I was a lunatic. The Legions are portrayed as heroic in their history books. A bullet-proof narrative. No doubts there.
And “Stalinism”? This author is planning to write much more on this subject. But here, just in brief: What kind of country did Stalin really inherit? It was a country thoroughly plundered by foreign invaders, a country devastated by civil war. A country where the anti-revolutionary forces have been, until recently, financed by the U.K., France, U.S. and others. As a result of this brutal civil war unleashed from abroad, criminal gangs roamed all over the vast lands, and inside cities.
From the beginning, the Russian Communists wanted peace, the brotherhood of nations, and peaceful development for its people. I wrote in 2017, in my book Great October Socialist Revolution. Impact on the World and Birth of Internationalism:
The revolutionaries wanted to end all wars immediately. Russian soldiers left their trenches, and embraced their enemies. “We are all brothers!” they shouted. “We were forced to fight each other by ruthless monarchs, priests and businessmen. We should battle real enemies, not each other! Proletariat of the world, Unite!” But the Western officers and commanders were determined: they forced their men back to the trenches, accusing them of treason, pushing them to the battlefields.
Most significantly, the countless foreign invasions were overwhelming of both several major Russian cities and the countryside. As always throughout the previous centuries, the Europeans never thought twice before putting their military boots on Russian soil. In a way, Russia was treated and perceived as a ‘barbaric’ nation that could be attacked, colonized and plundered at will and without much justification, not unlike all those countless unfortunate nations all over the world: located in South America and Central Asia, in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Oceania. Many Russians looked like whites, like Europeans, but to the Westerners, they were never “white enough”, never really part of the culture of the conquerors and plunderers. Russia always had its own soul, its way of thinking and feeling, its distinct manner of acting and reacting.
In my book, I revisited the subversion tactics of Western imperialism and militant anti-Communism:
The essence and strategy of Western imperialist subversion is essentially very simple: identify all strong and weak points of the country that you are attempting to murder, and try to comprehend its ideology. Study and learn all about its progressive leadership: its plans, and all that the revolution is trying to do for the people: like giving them freedom, equal rights, improved life expectancy, high standards of education, medical care, housing, infrastructure, arts and overall a decent quality of life. Then, attack where it hurts the most: use direct interventions, sabotage, terrorist assaults, or sponsor extremist and even religious fundamentalist groups, in order to spread fear and insecurity to slow down the process of social change and economic growth. Hit so hard that at some point, the democratic revolutionary system will have to react, simply in order to protect its people, their achievements, and even their bare lives. Wherever the West tries to destroy a socialist country, be it Nicaragua or Afghanistan in the 80’s, it first targets hospitals and schools, in order to demolish the great social achievements of the government, and to spread hopelessness among the population. Then it hits even harder, to trigger a strong government reaction, and then immediately declare: “You see, this is the real face of socialism or communism! You want a revolution? Fine: what you get in the package will be this: oppression, political trials, gulags, a lack of freedom, and even some brutal executions!” Use widely, weapons like disinformation and negative propaganda, so the revolution in a progressive but cruelly terrorized country would never have a chance to really influence the rest of the world, and even at home it will begin to suffer after being put under too much pressure…
… Such hideous tactics of the West, deeply injured the Soviet Union before WWII, but it failed to destroy the country.
The Chinese famine took place partially because during the Japanese occupation, the Imperial Army disrupted the food chain supplies, as well as the system of farming, which had been formed and developed throughout thousands of years. Japan was interested in only one thing: how to feed its troops that were occupying a massive part of Asia.
In both cases, Western propaganda made people believe that the real cause for the loss of lives in Russia and China was Communism! The brainwashing has been so successful that even in Russia and China, millions of people have been fully indoctrinated by these countlessly repeated lies coming out of the West.
But ask in London whether people know anything about the fact that under the British occupation of India, tens of millions of people died from starvation; victims of the famines triggered by London, for many reasons, one of them being an attempt to lower the population. Over 50 million Indian people, cumulatively, died in these famines, between 1769 to 1943, in British administered India.
Should we, as a result, ban the British political system? I am convinced that we should! But that is usually not what the people of the world, including the victims of the British colonialist barbarity, are demanding.
So, back to the British or French public. What do they know about their past, and even about their neo-colonialist present? They only know what they have been ordered to believe. In brief: they know nothing. Zero. Only fairytales. But they are convinced that they are well informed. And that they have the right to lecture the world.
They know absolutely nothing about the USSR and about China. They have no clue about why North Korea and Cuba are being continuously demonized (as mentioned above, they both, hand in hand, liberated Africa from Western colonialism).
I have lived and worked all over Africa for years, made films, and written countless essays. The Cuban and North Korean involvement, enormously positive, internationalist and undoubtedly Communist, from Namibia and Angola, from Egypt to Mauritius, has been very well documented. But say it in a Parisian café or a London pub and jaws will drop. Blank stares, emptiness.
Even that “Anti-Communist left” consisting of anarcho-syndicalists and Trotskyists (really mostly British and U.S. brands of pseudo revolutionaries), knows nothing, or wants to know nothing, about true revolutionary Communism.
On 23 April, 2020, Brasil de Fato quoted the Venezuelan Vice-Minister Carlos Ron:
It is very interesting in North American culture, to believe in “manifest destiny”, to think that they have a messianic mission. They believe that their mission is to end communism in Latin America, so they will overthrow Venezuela, Cuba and everything that is red, because all that is red is communist.
In Indonesia, an entire failed, miserable and depressing religious state is based on anti-Communist dogma. Nobody clearly understands there why they are anti-communist, but the more they are ignorant about the subject, the more aggressively they act; banning all Communist concepts and lexicon, building anti-Communist ‘museums’, and producing anti-Communist films. After killing millions of Communists on behalf of the West, anti-Communism has become the essence of their existence. In the past they even used to ban the Chinese and Russian languages. All just to silence the past, when President Sukarno and the PKI (Communist Party of Indonesia), before the US-backed 1965 coup, were building a great, progressive, socialist and non-aligned nation.
In fact, in much of Southeast Asia, perhaps the most grotesquely turbo-capitalist part of the world, Communism has been banned, or at least demonized. The result: confused, consumerist, religious and dismal nations. Communist Vietnam is the shining star, but it is never portrayed as such, definitely not abroad.
Let us celebrate the 150th birthday of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin!
Let us celebrate it by revisiting history, and the present.
The most brutal political system is Western imperialism, colonialism. It has already murdered hundreds of millions of people all over the world. This fact should be repeated again and again.
The goal of Western propaganda has always been to equate Communism and Fascism, the two most antagonistic systems in history in the world. It was the Soviet Communist system, which smashed Nazism to pieces, saving the world, at an enormous cost of approximately 25 million human lives.
Only Western imperialism can be compared to German Nazism. The two are made of the same stuff.
To me, to many of us, Communism means the perpetual struggle against Western interventionism, colonialism.
In this terrible moment in human history, it is important to clearly understand this reality.
If Communism were to be defeated, it would be the end of the struggle for freedom. Only the powerful, centralized, ideologically-sound Communist system can fight and liberate the human race from colonialist shackles, from savage capitalism, and an nihilist empty existence.
Propagandists tell you insane lies, that Communism is outdated and boring. Don’t believe them: it is the most upbeat, still young, and optimistic arrangement of the world. And unlike imperialism and capitalism, Communism is constantly evolving. Not in Europe or North America, but in the rest of the world.
Just look at the West and its colonies. Look at the misery and deprivation brought on humanity by the Western oppressive dictatorial regime.
Happy birthday, Comrade Lenin!
The struggle continues!
• First published by NEO – a journal of the Russian Academy of Social Sciences