While the previous issue of the Australian Marxist Review focused on the most recent offensive against the working class, issue #62 invites readers to reflect on their personal experiences in the socialist world. These recollections of the resistance of pioneering countries to imperialism should encourage us to struggle harder against the ever encroaching dictatorship of transnational corporations that threatens to sweep away the hard-won gains of working people. In the face of this threat, it is more important than ever to build solidarity, to avoid falling into the trap of narrow sectarianism and to chart a practical way forward.
A cornerstone of the bourgeois anti-communist creed is that the socialist countries, with the Soviet Union at its core, were incapable of innovation and creativity. Rob Gowland, in his article “The myth of Soviet backwardness”, allows Soviet ingenuity to speak for itself, demonstrating how human creativity is liberated by socialism. This feature of socialist society allowed the people of the USSR to successfully defend its territory against imperialism for many decades against seemingly overwhelming odds.
As Communists struggling against capitalism in our own country, a visit to the socialist world is a life-changing experience that both strengthens our resolve and raises serious questions about how exactly socialism should be achieved. In this issue, three comrades share their personal experience of living in the socialist world. Bob Briton reflects on his time in Hungary, the attitudes of people in a People’s Democracy and what lessons we should draw from its ultimate defeat. As a long term resident in Cuba, Keith Headland is well placed to explain the ins and outs of Cuban life in his article “Life in a socialist country”. Taken together with Vinnie Molina’s account of the Southern Cross Solidarity Brigades to Cuba, this issue paints a rich picture of Australian experiences in Cuba.
The reproduction of Peter Symon’s article “Dimitrov and today’s fight against TNC dictatorship” is timely. The left is disunited in this country and elesewhere. The right and the extreme right are on the rise. The left struggles to get its ideas before a class being robbed of rights and conditions previously taken for granted. Intolerance is a very strong element in public discourse. Dimitrov’s advice to the world Communist movement about the need for unity in action and Peter Symon’s assessment of its usefulness are highly recommended.
The opposite of building the widest possible unity among the working people is engaging in factional infighting and narrow sectarianism. David Matters, in “Socialist Alliance split”, demonstrates the danger of sectarianism and factionalism. The instability of other forces on the left has been on display with developments within the Socialist Alliance lately and the sectarianism of Socialist Alternative continues to disrupt potential unity and a proper understanding of the lessons of history for its adherents.
Building on this theme of “left” errors, Rob Gowland explores the history of socialist societies that have overestimated there level of development or even sought to “jump” over the stages required to build the material base for socialism. His piece is sympathetic to the lack of experience and extreme hardship placed on the builders of the first socialist societies and is optimistic for the future of that vital work.