Communism, fascism and the Russian working class

"The dogs bark; therefore, the caravan is moving!" (Old Arab proverb)

It is not my custom to respond to provocations or enter into polemics with insignificant sects who appear to have all the time in the world to insult each other. For such groups, this is what passes for political activity.

However, I cannot pass over in silence the comments made by someone in London called Lisa Taylor (of whom I have never heard) concerning my report on the May Day demonstration in Moscow. The remarks were made in one of those innumerable discussion lists which nobody reads, but which are of the most intense interest for those who write in them. Someone was kind enough to forward Ms Taylor's comments to me in Moscow. She writes:

This is a disgraceful article, trying to paint in rosy red colours the miserable reality that all the Russian labour movement at present is led either by reformists or red-brown nationalists. Shame on so-called Trotskyists for this lie!. No unity with red-browns Zyuganov, Anpilov or Tyulkin!

Lisa Taylor

I sincerely regret that my article was not entirely to Ms Taylor's liking. But then, it is not always possible to please everyone in this world. The tone of the above lines is rather heated, which suggests either passionate conviction or empty bluster. Let us assume that the former is the case. In that case, it is my duty to point out to Ms Taylor that conviction is a very fine thing, but it is even better when based on facts and not fictions.

The phrase "red-brown" in relation to Russia - for those who are not "in the know" - signify neither more nor less than fascism. To support a fascist demonstration, in Russia or anywhere else, would indeed be both disgraceful and shameful. On this point there can be no difference between Ms Taylor and ourselves.

At this point, however, things begin to get a bit complicated. Sadly, Ms Taylor was not on the demonstration of the First of May, and therefore certain facts are clearly unknown to her. So let us shed a little light on the scene.

On the section of the demonstration where I was, there were 2,000 young people - members of the youth organisations of the CPRF, Trudovaya Rossiya, the RKRP, and the Revolutionary Workers' Party (Workers' Democracy). The main slogans, as I have already explained in my report were anti-capitalist, revolutionary and anti-imperialist in character.

So what about fascism? The organisers of the demonstration began by excluding the fascists (the so-called National Bolshevik Party) who in the past participated on the May Day demonstration. At the front of the Communist youth column, just where I was marching, there was a large placard with the slogan: "DEATH TO FASCISM!" On repeated occasions the demonstrators chanted: "Fascism shall not pass!"

One would have thought that these facts would be sufficient to convince even the most exacting of anti-fascists that the opinions of these demonstrators were not exactly favourable to the ideas of Hitler, Mussolini or Zhirinovsky. But Ms Taylor and her friends in London are evidently firm adherents of the old journalistic adage: "Why let the facts spoil a good story?"

Of course, the author of these lines has profound political disagreements with Zyuganov, Anpilov and Tyulkin. But they at least have the merit of being able to mobilise a hundred thousand people in Red Square, who did not come to demand the introduction of a fascist state in Russia, but to express their collective anger against Russian capitalism - which is not at all the same thing.

In addition to the most revolutionary sections of the youth - who were present in far greater numbers than any other time for the past seven years - there were important contingents of workers from all the big factories in Moscow. Of course, this does not impress Ms Taylor, who is firmly convinced that the WHOLE of the Russian labour movement (her words, not mine) is now led by fascists! This means that the Russian working class now consists of either fools or rogues, or both - a conclusion with which the present writer must respectfully but firmly refute.

The recent uprising of the working people of Voronezh is sufficient proof that the patience of the masses in Russia is beginning to run out. Stormy developments are on the order of the day. If a genuine Bolshevik-Leninist Party existed with a sufficient base, Russia would now be on the eve of revolution. In the absence of such a party, the Russian workers will inevitably gravitate to the CPRF which at least in words claims to be a Communist Party. And, incidentally, it was the CPRF and the official trade union, the FNPR that organised the Voronezh demonstration.

The policies of the CPRF leadership have been unspeakably bad. But there is enormous discontent in the rank and file. This was reflected in the speech of the leader of the Moscow City CPRF, Alexander Kuvaev, which got a lot more applause than Zyuganov. Kuvaev may not be perfect, but he is certainly an improvement on what the CPRF leaders were saying before - and a fascist he is most certainly not.

One could say a lot more, but life is short and I fear that several lifetimes would de insufficient to educate the sects in the facts of life. So I will end here. No doubt Ms Taylor will answer with another tirade. I have no intention of replying, since, in the words of a well-known German poet: "Against stupidity the gods themselves fight in vain."