The Guardian November 7, 2001


November 7th Peace, bread and land

November 7 marks the anniversary of the Great October Socialist 
Revolution when the Russian workers and peasants, under the slogan "peace, 
bread land" took power in 1917.

As the people of Russia set about building the first socialist state, they 
faced an enormous task under the most appalling and difficult conditions. 
But their successes were many, and today, 84 years on, workers around the 
world pay tribute to their achievements.

The transition from slavery and feudalism to capitalism on a world scale 
had taken hundreds of years. As capitalism developed the working class and 
its organisations grew. Working class ideology in the form of Marxism-
Leninism became widespread with the achievements of the socialist USSR as 
the example.

Karl Marx and his comrade Frederick Engels played an important role with 
their analysis of class struggle, political economy and development of 
working class philosophy  dialectical materialism.

Their work in these fields laid the basis of the scientific theories that 
have assisted workers and revolutionary parties right up to today. The 
"Manifesto of the Communist Party", first published in 1848 is a classic 
statement of communist aims and remains a best seller even today.

Lenin further developed the theories of Marx and Engels. He stressed the 
need for a communist party, and outlined the type of party needed and its 
role.

Lenin brilliantly developed an understanding of imperialism and its 
characteristics: the growing concentration of wealth; the transition of 
small enterprises into monopolies; the parasitic nature of finance capital; 
the growth in the export of capital to other countries; the domination of 
large corporations; and the carve up of the world by imperialist powers of 
Europe.

Lenin not only developed and extended Marxist theory, but analysed and led 
the struggle that saw Marxism put into practice in the first socialist 
revolution.

The new emerging socialist state became a shining star for workers around 
the world. As revolutionary fervour spread in the years following WW 1, 
communist parties were formed in many countries during the 1920s, including 
in Australia.

In the 1930s, capitalist economies faced deep depression and thousands of 
workers were laid off. The capitalist ruling class across Europe faced new 
uprisings and struggle.

To pull itself out of the deep crisis the ruling class in a number of 
European countries turned to fascism and to war. The aims of fascism were 
to destroy the first socialist state and to redivide the colonial world in 
the interests of German, Italian and Japanese imperialism. War was the 
means to these aims and WW II erupted.

On the part of the progressive and revolutionary forces, World War II was a 
war against fascism, in which the Soviet Union played a vital role at a 
massive cost to its own people.

Communists across Europe waged a courageous fight against fascism from its 
inception and during the war years. This, together with the tremendous role 
played by the Soviet Union led to the establishment of other socialist 
states in the East of Europe after the war.

The loss of life and the destruction wreaked on the Soviet Union during the 
period of Nazi occupation created enormous difficulties as it set about 
rebuilding its infrastructure and providing social services to the people 
after the war.

But public ownership of enterprises and the land, and a planned economy 
plus the enthusiasm of the people, rapidly restored the economy. The needs 
of the people were put first. Workers and trade unionists gained greater 
powers and rights, the people had a greater say in their lives through the 
Soviets.

The achievements of the first socialist state are incredible: the building 
of a strong economic base; space exploration; agricultural development; 
full employment; housing for all; free education and health services; 
affordable culture and sport; one of the best public transport systems in 
the world and much more.

The various Soviet Republics, with their many cultures and races developed 
in harmony.

The example of the Soviet Union inspired and assisted revolutions in China 
and Vietnam and later, in Cuba. It gave tremendous assistance to many of 
the liberation struggles in Africa, the Indian sub-continent, the Middle 
East and in Asia during the '50s, '60s and '70s. In these years the former 
British, Dutch and French colonial empires were smashed. Many newly 
independent states emerged.

Women and children gained rights never known before in capitalist society. 
The people gained real security at home. The Soviet Union was a bulwark 
against capitalism, against war, and a fighter for peace, freedom and 
democracy.

There is no doubt there are many areas where things could have been done 
better, where mistakes were made, whether it was in over-centralisation of 
planning, the so-called command system, the growth of corruption, relations 
between Party and State or the Party and the people, etc

Despite these shortcomings, it is important to recognise that this was the 
first attempt to build a socialist state, and it was done under siege and 
from a very low economic base.

No capitalist state has ever offered to all its people such security, such 
basic human rights, such living standards.

These only came to an end when the socialist state was overthrown by 
treacherous counter-revolutionary forces within the Soviet Union, assisted 
by imperialism from without. Their aim was to re-establish the capitalist 
system in all the republics of the former Soviet Union.

The consequences have been disastrous, not just for the people of the 
former Soviet Republics but for the people of the whole world.

With the Soviet Union and East European socialist states out of the way 
world capitalism led by the US went on the offensive against democratic 
rights, against trade unions, against workers' wages and working conditions 
everywhere.

Where the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB), and World 
Trade Organisation (WTO) have failed through economic means, the ruling 
class is once again resorting to war to achieve its goals.

The US and its allies have torn Yugoslavia apart, have been bombing Iraq 
for the last 10 years and are now bombing the infrastructure and people of 
Afghanistan.

US and European imperialist powers have embarked on the re-colonisation of 
the former colonies in which the control and exploitation of the smaller 
countries of the world are being re-divided among them.

Any country that asserts its independence and refuses to accept the 
policies demanded by the IMF and the World Bank become potential military 
or economic targets for imperialism.

But capitalism faces a new and serious economic crisis. Global depression 
is now being admitted. There is high unemployment and the numbers living in 
poverty and homelessness have increased to staggering proportions. Poverty 
and wars have created an unparalleled number of refugees.

The US and its European allies, along with the ever-faithful Australian 
Government, have launched an "infinite war". But the war has nothing to do 
with fighting terrorism.

They have used the attack on the World Trade Centre to provide an excuse to 
launch a war that has been long in the making. The people of Afghanistan 
and the Taliban Government are only their first target because Afghanistan 
holds a strategic position in Central Asia. The US does not plan to stop at 
Afghanistan.

Imperialism has learnt a great deal from the past, and has for many years 
now been preparing for this war.

In Australia the government is fostering racism, is turning away refugees 
even though the wars imposed on Middle Eastern countries have created these 
desperate refugees. The Government has introduced a number of extremely 
restrictive laws which increase the surveillance and limit the democratic 
rights of all Australians. 

These laws are introduced using various excuses such as security at the 
Olympics, to stop illegal migrants, to control drugs or as "anti-terrorist" 
measures.

These laws give the police, private security agents, the military and very 
soon, if the Coalition is re-elected, will give ASIO, incredible powers to 
stop, to search and to hold people; to intervene in civilian matters, to 
invade people's computers. Many of them reverse the long held right to onus 
of proof.

At the same time the government has been developing a private prison system 
and building concentration/labour camps around Australia which at present 
hold refugees but could in the future be used to imprison labour movement 
activists  trade unions, communists, representatives of progressive 
community organisations and others who speak out. This is what happened in 
Nazi Germany.

Similar laws and developments are occurring in the USA, Canada and the 
countries of the European Union.

But the US, European and Japanese capitalists face massive world opposition 
to their plans.

The movement against war and racism is growing by the day around the world. 
Hundreds of thousands of people have demonstrated in Europe, America, 
Australia and elsewhere against the policies of globalisation and against 
the war in Afghanistan.

Massive debts, unemployment and unsustainable military expenditure have 
resulted in cutbacks to social services, to people's rights, and the people 
are fighting back.

The WTO and the US in particular, suffered a humiliating defeat at Seattle 
in 1999, and faces the possibility of another defeat at the WTO conference 
in Doha (Qatar) to take place this month.

The demonstrations against globalisation and the war have brought together 
many forces-greens, NGOs, trade unionists, peace activists, indigenous 
community and other left and progressive organisations.

In their industrial and political struggles against capital, trade unions 
are implementing the slogan of Marx and Engels: "Workers of all lands 
unite!"

It has reached the stage where the poorest of the poor in many countries 
have absolutely nothing left to lose. Capitalism has no solution that can 
meet the needs of the people.

The Communist Parties, the working class, those fighting for their 
liberation against capital and other progressive forces around the world 
lost a valuable ally and friend with the destruction of the Soviet Union.

For the Communist Parties it was a difficult period where they had to re-
examine their own policies and sometimes face internal struggles and 
setbacks. Communist Parties are emerging much stronger and more focused on 
the tasks before them. The international cooperation of communist parties 
is also getting stronger.

It is time to renew the spirit of the October Revolution, to build united 
forces against imperialism and its plans to dominate the world.

With a strong international and local movement, the united peoples of the 
world can defeat imperialism.

The lessons learned from the Russian Revolution and from the experiences of 
other socialist countries have matured the international communist 
movement. Socialism remains the viable alternative to capitalism and in the 
not distant future the working people of more countries will take that path 
and successfully build a new society committed to the needs of the people, 
a society that lives at peace and offers genuine security.

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