The Guardian 23 March, 2005

Culture and Life

by Rob Gowland

Citizen Kane in Moldova

There were elections in Moldova last week. The ruling Communist Party of Moldova was re-elected.

The capitalist media's approach to the elections reminded me forcibly of Orson Welles' great film Citizen Kane. In that film, Welles, as press magnate Charles Foster Kane, is resoundingly defeated in his bid to become Governor.

The editor of his flagship newspaper looks at two alternative front pages that had been prepared in advance of the election: one says "KANE WINS", but he cannot use that one. Sadly he chooses the other, "FRAUD AT POLLS".

Had the Communist Party been defeated in Moldova, the bourgeois media would have loudly regaled us with more tales of a "velvet" — or rainbow-coloured or blue and white or any colour but Red — "revolution".

But the Communists won, so, in the best traditions of Citizen Kane, the cry immediately went up of "Fraud At Polls". As it does wherever imperialism's stooges fail to carry the day, whether in Moldova or Venezuela or Zimbabwe.

Even before the polling day, as soon as it became clear that imperialism's "pro-democracy" forces were unlikely to win, the disinformation campaign swung into action. To nobody's surprise, specialist websites like the anti-Communist came out with such news headlines as "Moldavian elections have already been falsified!!" (with double exclamation marks to give it veracity, presumably).

Now how predictable was that claim, eh?

Moldova is the former Soviet Republic of Moldavia. When Gorbachev's counter-revolutionary putsch overwhelmed the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, socialism was also overthrown in Moldavia.

Soviet rule was replaced by a neo-capitalist regime comprising budding entrepreneurs, professionals and intellectuals who claimed (perhaps genuinely) to believe the lofty promise of bourgeois democracy, anti-Russian Moldavian nationalists and supporters of the concept of incorporating Moldavia into neighbouring Romania.

The country's name was changed to match that of the Romanian province of Moldova, but the anti-popular measures of the bourgeois regime combined with the push to incorporate the country into a "Greater Romania" led to full-scale civil war, in which to the evident surprise of imperialism, the Communist-led forces were victorious.

I met a representative of the Communist Party of Moldova just after their historic regaining of power. So far they are the only Communist party in the former Soviet Union to have done so.

She told me of some of the problems that confronted the Moldovan party. Besides the inevitable confusion and disarray in the aftermath of counter-revolution and civil war, they were faced with trying to bring together a deeply divided nation, rent by ethnic rivalries which imperialism had deliberately fanned in order to fuel the civil war.

Their call to other former Soviet republics to join in re-establishing the Soviet Union had not received much official support, so they were going to have to try to make it on their own, a daunting prospect for a small, war-ravaged country.

Sandwiched between Romania and the Ukraine, they were not exactly in a prime trading position. On top of this, they knew only too well that imperialism would be working very hard to bring about their downfall.

They were also acutely aware that, thanks to foreign interference in their civil war, Moldova was knee deep in weapons of all sorts, including heavy weapons. Anyone wanting to stage a coup would not lack for the means with which to do it.

It is a tribute to their skill and their successful policies that they have survived this long and have even been re-elected (without recourse to fraudulent polls). But, of course, to retain power they must bring about an improvement in the lot of the people.

Without a Soviet economic bloc to belong to and draw strength from, they are following the same risky road as the other countries of Eastern Europe and joining the European Union. Whatever their misgivings, they probably have no other viable alternative at present.

Within the European Union, however, strident voices have been raised in an effort to keep them out. They are, after all, Reds!

I received an email only last week headed "Communist Terror returns to Europe". Where, I wondered, was this curious phenomenon taking place.

Predictably, the email took me back to our old friend where a headline shrilled "The state with a red dictatorship will accede to EC!"

While Communists worry that Moldova joining the EU places its Communist-led government at risk, anti-Communists are trying to quarantine it to save Europe from the contagion of Red Revolution. Paradoxically, I find the sense of déjà vu associated with this rather reassuring.

Churchill tried to quarantine the USSR with his Cordon Sanitaire, and failed. Hitler similarly tried to keep "Bolshevism" out of Europe, and failed.

The USA, of course, tried to keep it out of everywhere. And also failed.

Now, having successfully overthrown socialism in the USSR and Eastern Europe, it seems they are nonetheless terrified at the prospect of having even one small Communist-led country reappear amongst the nations of Europe.

My, these socialist ideas must really be potent, mustn't they?

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