Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Unrepentant....Because a Better World is Possible.

Its been over a year since I started this blog, as I stated at its inception I was always dubious about the value of the blogosphere, but since the blog seems to have attracted a fairly consisitent readership and at times provoked some interesting discussions I felt it was time to clarify what I now believe is the point of this modest addition to the vast outpourings of writing and opinions which deluge the internet minute by minute.

In some respects the title is probably misleading, although it has the advantage of being memorable. I am not however some kind of unrecontructed stalinist who takes pleasure late at night drooling over youtube clips of Stalin and the Red Army triumphantly entering Berlin. I am not a nostalgia freak.

Quite simply I am really just a person that believes, that for all its very many faults, and the totalitarian tendencies which caem to the fore , brought about to a very large extent by concerted efforts to strangle existing socialism at birth, that there was something very significant indeed in an attempt to break away from a system based on class exploitation. Socialism for all its many faults did attempt to establish a system whose founding principles were eqality and an attempt to see if it was at all possible to create an advanced society without some minority strata of the population who did very little to create the wealth of the world , but yet garnered the vast bulk of it.

For a variety of reasons, too numerous to discuss here, the socialist experiment that was commenced in the USSR failed. In the course of its existence many many crimes were committed and numerous atrocities were countenenanced all in the name of an ideology.Yet any fair observer would concede that this bold social experiment met unrelenting and violent opposition from the system which its very existence challenged, that is capitalism and its most extreme variant fascism . To what extent this hostility, sabotage, invasion, and economic isolation distorted the nature of socialism itself is again a subject that has been discussed ad nauseam, but I suspect that socialism was in many respects fatally damaged by the wars both economic, political, and ,military, that were visited upon it from its birth. Its birth after all did represent the most fundamental challenge that capitalism had ever faced, and the class who derive their wealth, power, and privilege were terrified at the prospect that their system would be superceded, and stopped at nothing to ensure that it failed.

So this blog, does not attempt to turn back time, it instead attempts in a very modest way to express some of the positive values that socialism bequeathed the world, an admiration for the concept of equality, a rational system of production where the products of work are shared fairly amongst those who create the wealth, an aspiration towards high and edifying art and literature which ennobles the human spirit and celelebrates the beauty of the world we are so fortunate to experience.

We can see the culture that capitalism is creating, the banality of shows like 'Big Brother', the commercialisation of all forms of sport, the endless incessant 24-7 drive to consume. A consumer culture that seeks to fill the spiritual void so many are experiencing with yet more and more things that we are persuaded by incessant advertising that we need, but in fact do not actually 'need' at all.

Capitalism , will not be able to reverse the damage being done to our environment, its raison d'etre is consumption. Capitalism driven by the need for consumption will destroy our planet, and all the evidence is , that despite much hand wringing the destruction of our environment under the auspices of the market system is is accelerating not slowing.

Communism, perhaps rightly has a bad name, its failings were huge and in many cases unforgiveable.However, the system we live under today, a system with an ideology and as strong a set of values as Communism, the sytem of 'capitalism', masquerades as the 'natural' way that things have to be.

But I remain unrepentant in my belief that a system that condemns two thirds of the worlds population to abject poverty and subsequent malnutrion , whilst one third struggle with the health problems of obesity is obscene. I am unrepentant in my belief that if the USA dedicated just one fifth of its expenditure on arms to aid and world development then global poverty would be eradicated.

Lastly I am unrepentant in my belief that a better world is possible because I refuse to accept that the soul-less mediocrity of the world we live in today, as its climate degenerates, as the bulk of its people live lives of grinding meaningless poverty and illiteracy is the best that we as human beings can achieve.

I remain a beiever in the ideals of communism, because I believe that what fundamentally prevents the world progressing is a system based on exploitation and injustice. As long as that fundamental barrier to progress remains, I will persist in continuing to describe myself as an 'Unrepentant Communist' since for me that is identical to persisting in describing myself as a human being who believes that we can create a better world than the one we are sadly destroying today.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mark Almond Oxford Historian on the Crisis in the Caucasus

Mark Almond, lecturer in modern history at Oriel College Oxford appeared at a rapidly convened anti-war neeting on London on 14th August and delivered this perceptive and highly amusing analysis of the situation in the Caucasus. I found his approach refreshing and insightful primarily due to his close familiarity with Georgia and the region derived from the fact that he has visited Georgia as a human rights observer no less than 9 times since the early 1990's.

I hope readers of Unrepentant Communist, which has now been online for over a year, will enjoy this clip as much as I did.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Russia is Right...Georgian Bloody Aggression Justifiably Repulsed

Over the last week we have seen the Western worlds media relearning and dusting off all the old Russo-phobic sentiments which used to characterise the West's reporting of the USSR in the days of the 'old' cold war. We now seem to be entering a period which may become characterised as the 'new' cold war. One of the main reasons for the old cold war, apart from the overarching aim of strangling any socio-economic system that eschewed capitalist property relations, and extended aid and assistance to national liberation movements the world over, was the secondary reason that the ever present concept of the 'Soviet threat' fuelled an almost limitless commitment to arms expenditure. Expenditure which the military-industrial complex of the USA and the Western nations cherished since it ensured a constant source of immense profit to the huge defence corporations of the West.
Just as the Iraq war seems to be winding down, up pops a 'war' that will no
doubt fill a huge reservoirs of future justifications for expenditure on heavy duty weapons of conventional warfare.
The BBC'
s Bridget Kendall is one reporter whose partisan and blatantly anti-Russian reporting had me almost wondering if I had been transported back in in time to 1988, a tour de force of innuendo , obfuscation, and half truth that left the listener with the distinct impression that it was the Russians who had attacked poor little Georgia.
In fact much of Ms Kendall's reportage has in various ways been misleading, referring to thousands of 'refugees fleeing the conflict' whilst ommiting to make clear that the refugees in those initial first few days of
the war were South Ossetians fleeing across the Russian border away from Georgian aggression. One quick glance at Bridget's biography (see link above) suggests that if she is'nt on the books of MI6 , then its a serious ommission that she isn't, and she, as sure as the Pope's Catholic, is very likely to be in close contact with people who are.
So lets be
absolutely clear about what happened in the case of South Ossetia and Georgia in the early hours of the 8th August as the world watched the stupendous opening ceremony of the Olympic games in Beijing. Georgian forces launched a treacherous dawn attack on the autonomous republic of South Ossetia on 8th August briefly occupying the capital, Tskhinvali, and killing many civilians and a number of Russian peace-keeping soldiers and forcing tens of thousands of civilians to flee across the border to North Ossetia-Alania, which is part of the Russian Federation.
The Georgian leadership clearly believed that they could do this while many world leaders, including Russian leader Vladimir Putin, were distracted in Beijing for the opening of the Olympics. They also banked on the USA support for their unilateral aggression, and most fatally of all they worked on the assumption that the Ru
ssians would do nothing. The reactionary Georgian nationalist regime miscalculated on all three counts.
Georgia is a willing tool of the West , sending troops to support the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq and pushing to join Nato and the EU . The Americans and Israel have helped arm and train the Georgian armed forces. Georgia plays a pivotal role in the supply of oil from the Caspian region to the West as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline runs through much of the country and the Americans see Georgia as a useful base to menace Russia and the countries of the Middle East.

Now the Georgians are begging for a ceasefire and blaming the West for not bailing them out of a crisis of their own making. But the man they should blame is their own president, Mikhail Saakashvili, who has brought his country to the brink of disaster through a reckless gamble that has so dramatically backfired.

Even the darling of the West the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has blamed Georgia for provoking hostilities in its breakaway regi
on of South Ossetia and criticized Western states for backing Tbilisi.Appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live" on Thursday, Gorbachev said Russia had moved additional forces into South Ossetia in response to the "devastation" in the South Ossetia capital of Tskhinvali."This was the use of sophisticated weapons against a small town, against a sleeping people. This was a barbaric assault," Gorbachev told CNN.The Soviet Union's last president and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Gorbachev said the West appears to have been aware of Georgia's plans to seize the province."Western television didn't show what happened in Tskhinvali," Gorbachev said on the program. "Only now they're beginning to show some pictures of the destruction. So this looks to me like it was a well-prepared project. They wanted to put the blame on Russia." He called Georgia's claims that Russia was attempting to dismantle its democracy "all lies from beginning to end."
Many analysts have questioned Georgia's claims to be a
"democratic, freedom-loving country," pointing to the use of baton-wielding, gas-masked riot police to put down a peaceful demonstration against Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili last November, and the subsequent closure of an opposition TV station.
Saakashvili has also been accused of ordering the murders of political opponents.
Saakashvili, the great 'democrat,' is busy charging anyone who opposes him with being a pawn of the Russians (and therefore guilty of treason), but the West is calling on him to restore civil liberties – and, in an apparent effort to propitiate his Western benefactors, he has lifted some restrictions and called new elections. Widespread and growing opposition to his strong-arm tactics, even among many of his former supporters, spells political trouble for Saakashvili and his corrupt cohorts, however – and an appeal to Georgian ultra-nationalism (which was always the real ideological motivation of the Rose Revolutionaries) would bolster him in the polls and provide a much-needed distraction, at least from the ruling party's point of view, what better to distract the attention of the people from his domestic difficulties, than a little military adventure that he fully calculated would be seen as a personal triumph, rather than the personal and national humiliation it turned out to be .
The fact of the matter is that this so-called Georgian 'strongman' is a thug and an opportunist who does an excellent imitation of George W. Bush. Whilst Dubya merely implies his political opponents are traitors to the nation, Saakashvili directly accuses his opponents of treason and then drags them into court on trumped up charges of high treason. Bush has presided over a regime that has legalized torture, but only for foreign "terrorists", Saakashvili, on the other hand, throws his domestic political opponents – whom he labels "terrorists" – in jail and tortures his own countrymen. Georgia's notorious prisons are chock full of political dissidents.
Bush justifies his aggression by invoking "democracy" and the doctrine of "preemption," while Saakashvili doesn't bother with such theoretical niceties, instead simply denying his aggression against South Ossetia in defiance of the plain facts.Saakashvili is a famously volatile risk-taker, veering between warmonger,aggrieved innocent, self styled 'democrat' and autocrat. On several occasions international officials have pulled him back from the brink. On a visit to Washington in 2004, he received a tongue-lashing from then Secretary of State Colin Powell who told him to act with restraint. Two months ago, he could have triggered a war with his other breakaway province of Abkhazia by calling for the expulsion of Russian peacekeepers from there, but European diplomats persuaded this eager pro-western lap-dog to step back from the brink. This time, looking back and yelping for a nod or a wink from his masters, the gun dog stepped right over the precipe.

For those who wish to read more details of these events a chronological Fact Sheet of the build up to the War in South Ossetia can be found