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Issue # 1427      9 September 2009

Culture & Life

Against the rewriting and distortion of history!

From the first moment that Red revolution swept imperial Russia, the propagandists of capitalism sought to mislead the world’s people as to the nature of that revolution. They represented Lenin and the Bolsheviks as a gang of German agents (WW1 was still raging at the time, remember), as spies and assassins.

When the British Embassy in Petrograd became the organising centre for counter-revolution in Russia, under the notorious agent Sydney Reilly, the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’, Peasants’ and Soldiers’ Deputies sent its security force, the Cheka, to the Embassy to arrest Reilly. Very undiplomatically, the Embassy personnel fired on the Chekists and in the ensuing gun battle the Ambassador was killed.

The British capitalist media reported in gruesome and colourful detail that the dastardly Reds had displayed the Ambassador’s body in the window of the Embassy for days afterwards! Such fictions made good copy, and also good propaganda.

No calumny was too great if it was being applied to Bolsheviks and other leftist riffraff. Although capitalism has modified its stance in the intervening decades depending on the prevailing circumstances and capitalism’s own needs, its underlying position and approach has not changed in essence.

Even during WW2, at a time when the capitalist powers needed the Soviet Union, and were dependant on the Soviet Army for the defeat of their common enemy, Hitlerite Germany, influential segments of capitalism used their media (notably the Readers’ Digest) to spread outrageous anti-Soviet lies and vilification.

Prominent Trotskyists in the USA and Britain eagerly lent their names to these anti-Soviet campaigns, both before, during and after the War.

These campaigns came in waves, but always angled to harm the Soviet Union and the workers’ movement. In the 1930s, the capitalist media suddenly discovered that Stalin was “betraying the Revolution”. (As if they would care about that!)

When the imperialist powers refused to establish collective security in the face of German aggression, and instead sought a non-aggression pact between Britain and Germany, they were clearly manoeuvring to get the USSR to fight Germany alone. They greeted the USSR’s masterful counter-stroke (the Russo-German Non-Aggression Treaty) with howls of betrayal and the revived accusation that the Treaty proved Communists and Nazis were just the same.

That lying equation has been the dominant theme of anti-Soviet and anti-Communist propaganda ever since. In one of his poems, Bertolt Brecht points out that Communism is simple, it’s understandable and it makes sense. To attack it head on is to focus attention on it, and that is unlikely to succeed, for the reasons Brecht noted.

So the propagandists of imperialism attack Communism obliquely, taking one of two complementary approaches: the “boots and all” approach equates Communism with the abhorrent, totally anti-democratic system of fascism. This approach assumes that all the proof you need is the fact that the assertion has been made.

The more subtle approach is to acknowledge some of the benefits of socialism but to then accuse it of not being democratic. This approach does not compare the very real participatory democracy of socialism with the purely token democracy of capitalism, but relies instead on the absence of the trappings of bourgeois democracy to “prove” the lack of democracy under socialism.

As more of the world is turning to the Left, as more governments are formed containing Communists, the forces of global reaction, the more aggressive sections of big capital, are becoming agitated, and fearful.

Desperate to halt this trend, they have discovered to their dismay that the old technique of eliminating progressive regimes with a military coup is no longer simple, or even so likely to actually succeed. The coup in Venezuela failed and that in Honduras has met no end of problems.

Reaction needs a different approach, and has chosen to revive a well-tried technique that has a proven track-record: equating Communism with fascism. After all, the US has been plugging this line for at least six decades: it’s practically pre-sold.

And there is the fact that, after the overthrow of socialism in the USSR and Eastern Europe, several former socialist countries succumbed to counter-revolution so totally that they actually installed neo-fascist governments: Croatia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia to name only a few.

As reported in The Guardian last week, the Lithuanian government is seeking to change its laws to make it an offence to denigrate the traitors who fought on the Nazi side in WW2 and equally an offence to oppose claims that Soviet Lithuania engaged in genocide.

This move, however, is not restricted to Lithuania. The entire European Union is the scene of an ideological struggle by the Right to try to get a resolution adopted proclaiming the August 23, the day the Russo-German non-aggression pact was signed, as the “day of remembrance of the victims of Communism and Fascism”.

As a Statement by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) says: “This history-distorting effort has the support of political forces serving capital and has manifested itself in various ways over recent years, including resolutions of various international bodies and parliamentary institutions.

“Having first renamed the 9th of May from Day of the Peoples’ Victory into ‘Day of Europe’ in order to write off the picture of the Red Flag waving over the Reichstag, they now seek to equate the victim with the victimiser.

“They aim at concealing the imperialist, class character of Nazism-fascism. They want to withhold the fact that the Victory of the People in WW2 bears the indelible seal of the Soviet Union, of the Red Army and the partisan movements, in which the communists had been at the forefront all over the world.

“They seek to whitewash imperialism, which bred fascism, and which today, 20 years after the counterrevolution, is once again engaged in slaughtering people around the world.

“They aspire to hit politically and ideologically all those that struggle against class exploitation and injustice, that resist the barbarous attack on the social, labour and democratic rights of the people unleashed in conditions of capitalist global economic crisis.”

The KKE calls on the people to “mobilise vigorously” against the re-writing and falsification of history, and to “defend intransigently the struggle against imperialism, for another society, without wars, unemployment, poverty and exploitation. For Socialism.”

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