Reasons to be cheerful

At the end of 2016 it would be fair to say that the future looks bleak. We confront four years of a climate denying US President. We face a similar period of Tory rule in this country, propped up by a mass media owned by sympathetic oligarchs or, in the case of the BBC, cowed into grovelling submission. Both are intent on persuading the public that Labour under Corbyn is “unelectable”. The prospect of a Tory negotiated Brexit threatens an outcome that could be even more dire than the slow strangulation by neo-liberal policies we experience as a member of the EU. Pessimism is not, however, a trait associated with communists. Hey, we overcame the failure and eventual collapse of the first serious attempt to build socialism anywhere in the world, the USSR. We remain determined to build our own Road to Socialism in Britain and then across the world and we won’t be deterred by a few, short-term obstacles such as these.

Reasons to be cheerful? Here are a few.

On the international stage, while our mass media speaks of the rise of populism and gives as examples the rise of Le Penn in France and the break-up of Angela Merkel’s centre-right coalition in Germany, they ignore the improved prospects for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, backed by the French Communist Party, and for Die Linke, the successor to PDS, the East German communist party.

Looking to the USA, we can take comfort from the relative success of Bernie Saunders, achieved in the teeth of a mass media who told the electorate that, like Corbyn, he was simply “unelectable”. What we learned was that the mass media has been weakened by the growth of social media and that an electorate offered the ‘same old, same old’ centre-right options will look for something else. This will apply just as much to the Tories and their ex-coalition partners, the Lib-Dems, as it did to Hilary Clinton. Even under first-past-the-post elections, standing as the least worst candidate may no longer be the ticket to success.

We also learned from Greece that half-way measures don’t work. Syriza won the election and thought it could stay in the Euro and use its democratic mandate to negotiate with the European Commission. As if! Had the electorate had the nerve to vote in the Greek Communist Party, with its uncompromising attitude to the EU, the country would at least have stood a chance.

Peace in Syria? Stability in Iraq and Libya?   Not yet and not soon enough. But at least we have learned that military intervention and bankrolling the opposition with a view to “regime change” doesn’t benefit the inhabitants of these countries or those adjacent to it.

And what of Brexit? Although the immediate prospects are daunting, leaving the EU was an essential first step on the road to socialism. We have to resist the attempts that will be made by Dame Theresa and her gang to further disadvantage the trade unions – they received precious little from the EU but even that could be threatened – and to enter into trade deals that favour big business, not workers. If these can be resisted, opportunities will arise for genuine democracy at home and real internationalism abroad.

Socialism isn’t “what a Labour Government does” (Herbert Morrison) any more than communism is “Soviet power plus electrification” (Lenin). It’s a society were, eventually, each receives according to their need. Let’s make 2017 the year when we take significant steps towards this.

All the best for the New Year from Croydon Communist Party.

“The October Revolution” author Joseph Stalin printed 1934 Moscow

John Eden. 11th February
It is a long time since I have posted on the blog, recently I have been helping out at the Marx Memorial library in Clerkenwell Green London, home to an extensive collection of books on the labour movement including many Marxist publications. I knew there had been a book by Joseph Stalin called “The October Revolution” published in 1934, this I knew from reading Issac Deutscher’s books either the one he did on Stalin in 1947 or the later three volumes on the life of Leon Trotsky.
It was important to get this first edition of Stalin’s book, which I found, because it contained Stalin’s tribute to Leon Trotsky’s leading role in the tactical organisation of the October revolution in the Russian empire in 1917.
Here is the quote,
“From the beginning to end the insurrection was inspired by the Central Committee of the party, with Comrade Lenin at it’s head. Lenin at the time lived on the Vyborg side in a secret apartment. On October 24 in the evening, he was called out to the Smolny to assume the general charge of the movement. All practical work in connection in the organisation of the uprising was done under the immediate direction of Comrade Trotsky, the president of the Petrograd Soviet. It can be stated with certainty that the party is indebted primarily and principally to Comrade Trotsky for the rapid going over of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the efficient manner in which the work of the Military-Revolutionary Committee was organised. The principal assistants of Comrade Trotksy were Comrades Antonov and Podvoisky.” Speech made by Stalin on the first anniversary of the revolution reported in Prava no241 Nov 6th 1918. I shall blog more on about Comrade Antonov full name Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko and his subsequent fate at hands of Stalin and the regime in the latter 1930’s.
12th feb,
I just found this on the Russia Today website, it’s historical research on the history of the Red Army, and an event that I have never before come across, that the foundation date of the Red Army 23rd February 1918 marks it’s first victory of the over the occupying German Army. I have never read any accounts of this, and as the artical quotes, it is doubted by most historians.

RT.com / RT projects / Russiapedia / Of Russian origin / Red Army

Of Russian origin: Red Army

Historical background

The Red Army (Krasnaya Armiya) was a common name for the Russian National Military Forces from 1918 to 1946, which was also known by the abbreviation RKKA (Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army). The name refers to the color red. In the workers’ movement red symbolized the blood shed in the struggle against oppression.

The Red Army was founded immediately after the 1917 Russian Revolution when the Bolshevik Party came to power. But the official day of its creation is considered February 23, 1918. This was when the Soviet Republic announced the first victory of the Red Army over the Germans on the very last days of Russia’ s World War I campaign.

Two weeks later the Bolsheviks signed a peaceful agreement with Germany, as it was difficult to fund the army, which was short of everything including guns, ammunition and human resources. Some historians argue that the victory never happened. However, February 23 is still today celebrated in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus as Defender of the Motherland

Within two months Civil War broke out between the Bolsheviks and the remnants of the Old Russian Army. These two opposing forces were also called The Red Guard and The White Guard. The latter was heavily supported by the English and the Americans as well as by regiments from other countries that sought to intervene against the Bolsheviks in 1918.

As a result, the Republic of the Soviets found itself within a ring of opposing forces – with Cossacks on the South, Kolchak and Czech battalions in Siberia and British and American Corps in the North of Russia. It was quite a challenge for the newly born Red Army.

After several defeats in 1918 the Red Army managed to turn the situation around. One of the masterminds of this comeback was Leon Trotsky, a close ally of Lenin, who was later forced to leave the country by Joseph Stalin and then assassinated in Mexico. He managed to garner resources for a counterattack.

In 1919 the Red Army repulsed General Kolchak’s Army in Siberia and then launched a huge assault against General Denikin in the center of Russia. One of the most threatening forces at that time was the First Cavalry led by Semyon Budenny, who later became the Defense Minister of the USSR.

By 1920 the Red Army had succeeded in crushing all resistance in the European part of Russia and then moved on to fight in the Far East where battles lasted until 1922. In 1920-1921 the Red Army went to war with Poland but after a successful offensive the exhausted Soviets troops had to retreat.

The events of the Russian Civil War are a point of heated discussion among historians. Many novels and films have appeared about White Guard Personalities like General Kolchak and officers on the southern front in 1920. But no one denies that the Red Army managed to take over thanks to the following factors:

– intense propaganda to persuade workers and peasants to fight on their side. One of the most popular songs at that time stated:“from he Taiga in Siberia to the British Seas the Red Army is the strongest of all”;

– well-structured military training that promoted the craft of war among the masses;

– persistent work to make White Guard officers change sides and turn to the Red Army as there was a huge deficit of well-trained officers to lead troops.
Written by Oleg Dmitriev, Russia Today

Viewers from Poland

By John Eden  22nd August 2012

Today there as been a number of viewers to the site from Poland, I being a Carpenter and Joiner  have worked with many Poles over the years, the first ones I encountered, were the generation who had fought in the British Army during the Second World War. My father had fought alongside the Poles at Monte Cassino in Italy, I should say he watched them and the Indian troops take the Fortress, he described the action as a suicide mission, and how the British had tried to raise their flag when it finally fell, something that caused great anger among the Poles and Indian troops who had lost so many men killed and maimed.

I found this piece from Robert Fisk of the “Independent” newspaper today 3rd September, in a report from Syria, in a mixed area of Christians and Moslems  but mainly the former, in an area still controlled by the Assad regime.

It tells of  the Polish troops my Father saw in Italy and how they got there to fight the Fascists. “Over the Roman temple of Maaloula (Syria my insertion) was built the church, and thence came in 1942
the twice wounded General Wladyslaw Anders, who was shepherding his 75,000
emaciated Polish soldiers from Soviet imprisonment through the Holy Land to join
the Second World War allies and subsequently the battle for Monte Cassino.
Anders gave a beautiful icon of Christ to the church at Maaloula; I found it
inside the front porch, his name written at the base, but no hint of his
mission. His brave II Polish Corps was condemned by Poland’s post-war Communist
government as a legion of defectors.”

The ones I have work with lately are the young generation often with wives back in Poland, travelling back at holiday times.

As a Communist and with the hindsight of history, I have come to the conclusion that one of the major reasons for the failure of Socialism to advance in the 1920s and which still as repercussions today, was the “mistaken” policy of the Bolsheviks to pursue the retreating Polish Army into Poland in 1920, after Poles failed attempt to seize  Ukraine. The intension of the Bolsheviks was not the occupation of Poland and the restoration of the Russian Empire, it was to break out of their isolation and spread the Revolution to Germany, or as Lenin later said to “probe the revolution with Bayonets”.                                                                                                                   The need to spread the revolution was foremost on the minds of all the Bolshevik Leaders, Germany was itself in Revolutionary turmoil, and was also the industrial powerhouse of Europe, Soviet Russia was completely exhausted by the Civil war, which was  backed by foreign Armies from 24 Capitalist Nations, This Civil war was essentially over by the end of 1919, the Red Army had been victorious, but all materials and food had been used up to feed this army, there was no materials for the factories, spreading the revolution was essential, the potential counter revolution now came from the Russian Peasantry (although in 1920 this was only implicit not explicit as it became in 1928) not from the defeated Whites and their foreign backers, the peasants were no longer willing to give up their stocks of grain and meat for nothing, their former landlords were defeated and the Red Army itself was overwhelmingly from the peasantry, the alliance between the workers and the peasantry which was so vital to the victory of the revolution and the civil war would be broken if the demands of the peasants and wider society could not be met i.e the necessities of life,  but the exhausted Soviet economy had no way of paying the peasants either in money or farm implements, the workers in the factories had no more materials and were returning to the countryside, factories were closing, the transport system had mostly been destroyed,so the urgent need to spread the Revolution.

One thing must be made clear the Polish invasion of Ukraine was not part of the war of intervention against Soviet Russia, it was purely a land grab, the Polish leadership understood completely that to bring down the Workers state, would have meant the return the White Army, the Russian landlords and Capitalists, and they would want Poland again within the Russian Empire, this is why at the height of the civil war 1919 the Poles did not intervene against the Soviet regime, all the wars the Poles fought in this period  against their neighbours, and there were many, were to extend their frontiers.

After the Polish Army was forced to retreat from Ukraine, discussions took place in the Soviet leadership and the Red Army whether to pursue the Poles into areas that were ethnically Polish, at this time both Leon Trotsky and Josef Stalin were against this policy, out voted they never the less agreed to carry out the decision to invade Poland. The Soviet Army was defeated at the “Miracle on the Vistula” as the Poles called it. Without going at this time into the reasons for the defeat, I will only say that when Trotsky was asked again to invade Poland some weeks after the defeat he refused, threaten to resign as leader of the Red Army, The Bolshevik leadership backed down, and Trotsky continued as leader.

Top photo taken on November 7, 1919 while celebrating the second anniversary of the October Revolution three people, Trotsky, Lev Kamenev and Artemy Khalatov were later edited out of this photo in the Stalinist period.
            Photo immediately above, Trotsky with Lenin and Red Army recruits in Petrograd 1921

I will end this blog for today, and try to return to it, with a deeper explanation of the events of 1920.