Russian Revolution centennial: Capitalists still really hate socialism

 U.S. troops were part of 14 imperialist armies that invaded in 1918-19 to destroy the revolution. Many refused to fight.
U.S. troops (here and above) were part of 14 imperialist armies that invaded in 1918-19 to destroy the revolution. Many refused to fight.

Actually, they really really hate socialism. The Wall St. Journal, ever the guardian of the interests of working class and oppressed people, has issued warnings that socialism was the “greatest catastrophe in human history” and that socialism “has claimed at least 65 million lives, according to the ‘painstaking research’ of demographers.”

A few days later another Journal article explained that there were actually “100 million dead.” Really?

The truth is that these figures sound more like the atrocious record of imperialism: the 27 million Soviet people, overwhelmingly civilian, killed in the Nazi invasion of 1941-45, the millions killed in the Russian Civil War of 1918-1921, the total of 17 million worldwide killed in World War I, over 50 million killed in World War II, the 4 million killed in Japanese, French and U.S. wars against Vietnam, and 3 million more in Korea, just to name a few of the wars waged against oppressed people by imperialism.

Establishment media creates confusion

Not to be outdone in confusion, in a New York Times opinion page, Arthur Montefiore  asserts “President Trump is in many ways the personification of the new Bolshevism.” Montefiore also claims that “without Lenin there would have been no Hitler.” However, he shows his attitude to Lenin by stating that “the (Provisional) government should have found him and killed him.”

Mr. Montefiore laments that, during the civil war in Russia, “Any coordinated attack by White armies, the other side in the Russian civil war, or any intervention by Western forces would have swept the Bolsheviks away.” Why didn’t that happen?

The fact is that in 1918, some 14 imperialist armies, 255,000 troops in all, invaded Russia to try to put down the revolution – mainly from the U.S., England and France. The U.S. and Britain also sent shiploads of arms to several counterrevolutionary armies under former czarist generals. But all this, apparently, was not enough to do the job. Why not?

Russian Revolution had backing of workers worldwide

One might ask, why did the Russian Revolution succeed after all? With millions dead in World War I, with the population exhausted, starving, surrounded by hostile armies, blockaded with no allies, with industrial production a tiny fraction of the pre-war base, what saved the revolution? Wait … No allies? Let’s see …

The only way the revolution could possibly have been saved, against all these obstacles, was because it had the full support of millions of workers and peasants in Russia, as well as the solidarity of millions of workers and soldiers worldwide. The truth is that no one wanted to fight against Bolsheviks, except the capitalists, landowners, aristocrats and other Wall Street types. But they never do their own fighting, they need working people to do that. That’s their problem.

U.S. soldiers mutinied

Simply put, the soldiers sent by all the imperialist countries did not want to fight the Bolsheviks. For example, U.S. soldiers in Murmansk, Russia, mutinied in 1919, as reported in “US Intervention in Russia 1918-1920: the Forgotten Mutiny.

The report explained that “U.S. soldiers indeed fought and died on the battlefield in North Russia against the Soviets between the years 1918 and 1919. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s advisors … persuaded him that the Germans had installed the Soviets into power and that the United States should in turn send an ‘experimental’ probe of U.S. soldiers to Russia to spark a Russian uprising against the Soviets…. that the Russian people fervently hated the Soviets and yearned for a new government.”

However, the soldiers didn’t quite see it that way: In a letter to U.S. General Pershing, an officer lamented that, “The morale of our troop has been low since the signing of the armistice with Germany. The men and some of the officers seem unable to understand why they should be kept in Russia after fighting has stopped with Germany. With the question of why they fought in Russia, American troop morale rapidly declined.”

One U.S. general commented that anti-communist Russian forces, “mutinied on two occasions, are unreliable and have little sympathy with the allies.” Another officer complained that the Russian troops were “liabilities” to the Allied effort (!) He explained that most of the Allied commanders held suspicious views about the Russian soldiers because they worried that they held “Bolshevik views.” Although President Wilson hoped that the Russian populace would “gallantly support the small expeditionary force, and fight the Bolsheviks, no massive volunteer Russian army evolved.”

This ultimately led to a mutiny of soldiers and the U.S. troops were withdrawn.

The Russian revolution survived and made history; the first to declare it a constitutional right to a job, to free health care, to legalize abortion, equal rights for women including universal suffrage, to organize a Soviet of Nationalities, where every nation would need to be consulted on important issues, abolished Czarist anti-gay laws, and so on. That this revolution was eventually overthrown doesn’t detract from its historic significance.

Capitalists still worried

Why, we must ask, 26 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, after the capitalist press worldwide so confidently declared “victory” in the Cold War against the Soviet Union and “the end of history,” do they still spend time attacking socialism? Because they are worried.

The fact is, the demise of the Soviet Union brought back the misery of capitalist exploitation in Russia and the former Soviet republics, as shown by the shortened life expectancy there from 65 in 1987 to 58 in 1994 (NY Times 8/28/17).

It also opened up a new “gilded age” for U.S. capitalism and renewed attacks on the working class here. Freed from any comparison to socialism (or so the capitalists thought) inequality skyrocketed; racism, misogyny and other capitalist
evils grew. The rich got much richer, poor and working people got poorer, but in the U.S. a new, stronger resistance movement has begun to develop.

The reality is that while working people can actually do very well without capitalists, the capitalists can do nothing without the exploitation of working and oppressed people. It is our labor that produces their profits. We work cooperatively – work under capitalism is socialized. But the bounty that is produced is taken by the capitalists. The profits are taken for the benefit of the few – the banks and financial oligarchs. There is socialized production and capitalist expropriation.

Working people across the country, especially youth, are in ferment and looking for answers. The Occupy Wall St., Black Lives Matter and the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016 showed that millions of working people are open to socialist ideas. This means they are realizing they can do very well without the capitalists. No amount of capitalist media confusion can change that.

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