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Archive for February, 2009

Book Review – Nikolai Yezhov: The Rise of Stalin’s ‘Iron Fist’

Friday, February 27th, 2009

 

Little in the way of authoritative biographical works have been written about Nikolai Ivanovich Yezhov, once known as “Stalin’s Favorite” and former People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs of the Soviet Union from 1936 to 1938. This new book offers an interesting glance, through a bourgeois historical lens, about the early life and political rise of Nikolai Yezhov without delving too much into his reign as a People’s Commissar. In fact, little is mentioned at all about this period, and instead focuses on Yezhov’s life from his proletarian origins, his service in the military, and his meteoric rise within the Bolshevik Party’s personnel apparatus.

The book’s strengths lie in that the author’s at least make some meaningful attempts to avoid allowing their own political beliefs hinder their objective historical work, though there is no short of reference to the “crimes” committed by Yezhov. Likewise, the authors don’t try to draw a psychological profile of Yezhov and are quite determined to describe his life and pre-NKVD career independent of how history has remembered him. Perhaps the work’s most praiseworthy element is that the author’s don’t try to assume conclusions (at least explicitly) where information is lacking. Unlike Robert Conquest, Getty and Naumov try not to assert assumptions in place of evidence and factual information.

A lot of information is based on sources or testimonies of people who recorded their experience of Yezhov from his earlier career – including individuals who served with him in the Red Army (1919-1921), his Party comrades in numerous provincial Party organs and his colleagues and coworkers in the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture. It also draws on some of the remnants of Yezhov’s personal records taken from his official archives.

The overall questions that Getty and Naumov are trying to answer throughout their research is what kind of person was Yezhov before he held the power of a People’s Commissar, explain his rapid rise within the Party and State apparatus and ultimately (according to the authors) discover whether Yezhov was merely Stalin’s tool, or a willing leader capable of acting on his own initiative.

The drawbacks of the book are that, despite the attempts of the authors, it does invoke moments of bourgeois anti-communist moralizing in reference to specific events and actions undertaken by the Soviet government, the NKVD and is underscored with a preconceived hostility towards Soviet policy. Furthermore, the book itself is extremely short (less than 200 pages), though this is probably due to the lack of verifiable sources on Yezhov’s early life.

 

Political party “Communists of Petersburg” (CP)

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Communists of Petersburg

In April 2003 a new political party “Communists of Petersburg” (CP) was set up in Saint-Petersburg. CP acts in St.-Petersburg and the Leningrad region and has an official. The organization consists of the workers serving, students, pensioners juridical status. The social structure of the organization is universal. As party “Communists of Petersburg” unites political active workers, ecologists, youth leaders, organizers of the public self-government committees and of other civil activists united under the socialistic ideology. The approximate age of the members of CP is 35.

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CP supports relations with all communistic parties of Russia, also left-centered parties. CP comes out sharply against authoritarian and antisocial course held by the power of Russia and considers it necessary to unite left and democratic power fighting against this course.

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There is a 2:38 min. English language video that goes with this text info, it is quite interesting.

Link to the video is here, and their main website link is here.

Response to Comrade N. Malone, Pt. 2

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

I am very often confused in ideological discussions, between moral, personal, political and economic positions, and their results. Maximum freedom of choice, a society where people could do whatever they want to do, would be described as an Anarchist society. That would include many things which platonist moralists and religionists might find repellent. The Marxist-Leninists, your position Beria, opposes Anarchists on the grounds that their goals are conflicting and un-practicable under revolutionary conditions, but you are not necessarily opposed to them on moral grounds? Yes?

I’m going to break this question into two parts: the first dealing primarily with the differences between Marxism and Anarchism; and the second for a future piece specifically focused on questions of the individual and the collective.

To begin with I’m assuming you’re describing left-wing anarchism (the primary group of anarchist thought) which is equally hostile to capitalist exploitation and oppression as Marxism; versus right-wing anarchism, which many anarchists would contend isn’t anarchism at all, but just laissez-faire capitalism.

Secondly, I’d like to point out that the distinctions between anarchism and Marxism-Leninism are not merely tactical – as one might suspect. For instance, Marxist-Leninists uphold the view that socialism is the necessary transitional stage after capitalism, and prior to communism. That doesn’t mean that Marxist-Leninists don’t reject the tactics of anarchism, or criticize the means for implicating the anarchist ideals as anti-scientific and anti-materialist; however, the major diversion occurs on matters of principle. Stalin described this in his article “Anarchism or Socialism.” Here is an excerpt on the contradiction of principles between the two:

The cornerstone of anarchism is the individual, whose emancipation, according to its tenets, is the principal condition for the emancipation of the masses, the collective body. According to the tenets of anarchism, the emancipation of the masses is impossible until the individual is emancipated. Accordingly, its slogan is: “Everything for the individual.” The cornerstone of Marxism, however, is the masses, whose emancipation, according to its tenets, is the principal condition for the emancipation of the individual. That is to say, according to the tenets of Marxism, the emancipation of the individual is impossible until the masses are emancipated. Accordingly, its slogan is: “Everything for the masses.” (J.V. Stalin)

Thus for anarchism, social liberation of the masses is achieved through total liberation of the individual. Conversely, according to Marxism – the liberation of the masses is the necessary condition for the liberation of the individual. The fundamental divergence in principles is the result of anarchists’ abandonment of the dialectical-historical method, and substituting it with base metaphysics. Marxists understand that each individual is engaged in continuously changing relationships with other members of society, with the means of production and class. Marxists understand that consciousness is dictated by existence, and that the mental and physical liberation for the individual is impossible without first liberating the masses. This is proven through Marx and Engel’s dialectical-materialist method.

Finally, There also exists a faction of anarchists who refer to themselves as “anarcho-communists,” claiming to uphold the Marxist dialectical materialist method, while simultaneously rejecting socialism, and fighting directly for a communist society. Anarcho-communists, despite their rhetoric and in line with anarchism in general, make the same grave mistake of rejecting the dialectical materialist method, and substituting it with idealist metaphysics. For not only do anarcho-communists reject the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat (socialism) – they are fundamentally idealists who believe that material conditions can be ignored, and that the laws governing political economy and social progress can be tossed aside for the glory of the individual.

In short – Marxism and Anarchism are essentially incompatible; and not merely two lines of thinking committed to differing tactics and means for achieving the same end.

Journalists and War Crimes

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Two weeks ago – Free Media Productions News Editor Besoshvili reported on the Zimbabwe journalists and other media personalities who were recently published on a list for sanctioning by the European Union. This raises particular legal and moral questions as to what degree of responsibility journalists and the media can play in intensifying campaigns of violence where violations of human rights, war crimes and “crimes against humanity” are concerned.

While the Zimbabwe journalists and media personnel were unjustly targeted because of Europe’s neo-colonial aims to overthrow the defiant government of President Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF, it raises some interesting questions in the abstract: should individuals from the media be held accountable for inciting violence or alleged “human rights” abuses?

There’s no doubt that what we’re seeing here is an unscrupulous attempt to neutralize Zimbabwe and its independent media through a campaign of international legal provocations. Nobody wants to sanction US media for imposing upon the public the necessary mindset for invading Iraq and Afghanistan.  Nobody is sanctioning the Israeli press and propaganda system for inciting violence against the oppressed and displaced Palestinians.  Cases of human rights abuse – whether applied to top ranking Generals or journalists – have become nothing more than mere weapons in the hands of the imperialist bloc to present their cases in benign, amicable terms.

FMP Breaking News

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

A new NATO Report, prepared by the Pentagon and ranked “For Official Use Only,” was recently leaked to the press and shows the devastating reality of the situation facing occupation forces in Afghanistan.

For more information read the FMP News coverage of the leaked report.

From Kabul to Mogadishu

Monday, February 23rd, 2009


As-Sahab Media

Shaykh Ayman al-Zawahiri

{ From Kabul to Mogadishu }

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

English subtitles, released Sunday Feb. 22, 2009. (approx. 25 minutes in length). Shaykh al-Zawahiri goes into great detail about the situation in Somalia, (with many film clips from there) as well as other matters, Yemen etc.  More info here @ AIF and also here @ al-faloja, where if you look, new links will likely appear sooner or later.

Blast kills 9 AMISOM troops in Mogadishu

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Press TV : Blast kills 9 AMISOM troops in Mogadishu
Sun, 22 Feb 2009 14:08:20 GMT

At least 9 people have lost lives as a car laden with explosives targeted a base used by the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).

The vehicle rammed into the gates of the base housing Burundian African Union Peacekeepers in the Somali capital Mogadishu and was immediately blown up shortly, a Press TV correspondent reported Sunday.

The responsibility for the explosion, which left seven Burundian soldiers killed and tens of civilians wounded, was claimed by al-Shabaab fighters.

“An over-speeding car entered the base. The next thing I saw was black smoke everywhere. It was a horrible incident,” a Burundi peacekeeper was quoted as saying on condition of anonymity.

The bomb attack was followed by a fierce gun battle between Somali fighters and AMISOM troops. Several mortar shells also landed in Bakara market after the explosion but no casualties have yet been reported.

“We have attacked the bases of Burundians in the university with three well-coordinated explosive-filled cars that inflicted heavy casualties on the troops,” said al-Shabaab’s spokesman, Mukhtar Rowbow Abu Mansur.

link here

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Al-Shabaab pictures of the Shuahda who attacked the AU base today

Quoted material from one of the forums;


“Sheik Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansoor has said a martyrdom bomber who was one of the mujahideen named Ahmed sheikh doonsi wahaliya wearing a jacket with explosives entered the Burundian base and blew himself up and afterwards the Burundians came out of the base and there waiting for them was a brother by the name Mursal Abdi Nur Muhammad Ali who had an explosive car with him and blew it up. And afterwards the mujahideen starting attacking the base with Mortars.”






Response to Comrade N. Malone

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

How do we define elements of “bourgeois society” from the kind of society which the Marxist-Leninists envision? What is this far more “encompassing transformation of society as a whole.”?

In a post-capitalist society, the fundamental basis of all social relations (economic, cultural and political) undergo a revolutionary transformation as the capitalist base is destroyed and the subsequent emergence of a socialist society. Marxism teaches us that the infrastructure (political systems, culture, social relations, etc.) are dependent upon the economic base. Therefore, Marxism-Leninism is concerned not merely with substituting ownership of the means of production, but an all encompassing transformation of every aspect of society.

This encompassing transformation of society as a whole is the result of a new economic base, achieved when modes of production are organized in a socialist fashion. But the result of this isn’t passive determinism, it also requires a new state apparatus, under the control of the working class, to help direct society towards the resolution of all contradictions as a means to establishing a communist society.

Social-democrats, Third Positionists, Nationalists et al. all oppose liberal capitalism on some grounds or another, but they fail to take notice of the way in which all existing societies have been defined by class-struggle, and that class struggle is a natural development of antagonisms between exploited and exploiting classes; and thus, don’t see the need for a truly revolutionary overthrow of not only the ruling elites, but their very institutions and systems. Simply nationalizing the means of productions to varying degrees isn’t necessarily socialism. The change necessitated to overhaul society from the grips of capitalism must come on all fronts – economic, political and social.

Destroying the bourgeois institutions, instituting a new proletariat culture and directing the masses towards progressive change are all necessary components of establishing the victory of socialism. Failing to do so leaves in place those very same contradictions that plague capitalism in the first place. Take for example the Bolsheviks, after overthrowing the Provisional Government and emerging victorious after the Civil War, they instituted sweeping changes that brought society in line with the economic changes that had revolutionized the former Russian Empire. Bourgeois institutions were smashed, and in their place stood new, proletariat institutions dictating how individuals and the collective mass would relate to one another, to the state, to production and so forth. Even during the New Economic Policy (NEP), a minor step backwards to help re-build Soviet infrastructure with a temporary influx of private capital, the changes were still going on at the political and cultural level.

Fascists, Conservatives and Nationalists seem to be lumped together as Third Positionists, while Trotsky-ism, is lumped together with Anarchism, I notice in some conversations. Do you believe there are any reasons to regard Trotskyism, and Anarchism, as likewise, “Third Positionism” since they are idealistic deviations from Marxism-Leninism, as it was practiced last century?

This oversimplifies things. Fascists are very distinct from conservatives, and their lumping together is largely the result of the former term becoming a political epithet. Nationalism and fascism can overlap, but are often times opposed to mainstream conservatives, particularly in many Western countries, who are really just neo-liberals with a “law & order” attitude towards society.

Trotskyism is distinct from Anarchism, but the connection is made on grounds of their unintentional practical outcomes, not any correlation or connectedness in theory. Both represent trends of idealism and deviation. Anarchism which links itself to Proudhon and many of the 19th century Anarchist theoreticians reject the dialectical method on grounds of metaphysics. Trotskyism, while claiming to uphold the dialectical method, reject it in their practical conclusions.

Anarchism and Third Positionism have always been distinct from Marxism-Leninism on numerous grounds and can’t properly be called “deviationist” in the strict sense since they never attempted to uphold Marxism-Leninism. Trotskyism, however, is an idealist ultra-left deviation from Marxism-Leninism and must be treated accordingly. Trotskyism, for a period of time, showed itself as a political alternative, but quickly degenerated into an opportunistic conspiracy after their allusions to power in the Soviet Union were all but smashed. Nowadays, Trotskyism is an academic pursuit primarily found in Western universities. It has no real connections with the international proletariat, has never once formed the foundation for a serious revolutionary movement and has little relevance in contemporary political discussions.


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