> We've had this one out many times Bob. By any measure, Russia is not
> imperialist. It is poor, and while not little is it getting smaller.
> It is a restored former workers' state whose economy is virtually
> collapsed. The methodology is Lenin and Trotsky. Imperialism
> produces a surplus which it has to invest in colonies and
> semi-colonies (today's client states) or loan to its rivals.
> Without that, it would have to physically annex regions to get
> hold of new markets, resources etc so as to create this surplus,
> like Tsarist Russia did. Russia today does not fit either of those
> scenarios. Is Rusia's invasion of Chechnya imperialist? Is it
> about to grab new resources? No its trying to defend existing
> resources established during the Soviet era. Its oppressive yes.
> That's why we can't support it. But oppression by itself is not
> imperialist. 20 years ago the Red Army invaded Afghanistan, and
> you argued correctly that that was to defend Russia from the US
> backed Mujadaheen. Now the USSR has collapsed, and the Russian
> Federation itself is beginning to break up. While the invasion of
> Chechnya cannot be justified, it is primarly defensive.As much as one
> third of Soviet oil was supplied by Chechyna. So Russia's invasion is
> not imperialist motivated but rather motivated to prevent a total
> collapse of the economy. Of course the new bourgeoisie would have
> long term plans to expand outside the Russian Federation, but can
> they do this now? No way.
Well,I don't think that the transition going the other way can be explained by
claiming that Russia with its history has become a semi colony. And to say that the
"economy has collapsed" must be seen in the context of that it is the planned economy
that has collapsed and what is coming out of the ruins is another economy with
definite class interests.
And yes in Afghanistan we still had a degenerated workers state in the Soviet Union
and thus the need to defend it, but to claim that the present war in Chetchenya is
"defensive" I find quite mind boggling. There are quite a number of scenarios of why
this war and the least viable is defensive. Some even say the bombings in Mosco were
the work of thgose who needed a war to consolidate Russia. And if you claim the
economy being saved by this war I certainly would like to know which economy?
> Which proves my point, that in Chechnya there is no advantage to the
> imperialists to see the Caucuses which are part of the
> Russian Federation fragment. Keeping control serves Russia's
> interests as major oil pipelines pass through to the Russian
> Black Sea. But this also serves the US interests, as a united
> Russia is better able to pay back its massive debt. Outside the
> Russian Federation, the US and EU imperialists are doing deals with
> the new bourgeoisies of the former Soviet Republics. Russia is in no
> position right now or in the forseeable future to compete for the
> spoils in these countries.
Naturally various imperialist powers are using this stuff in there own interests. But
this certainly does not exclude that the Russians themselves have there own
imperialist intentions. In fact one of the big side issues in this war is the message
coming from the Kremlin that the west has no business telling the Russians how to deal
with this stuff. The latest interesting turn was Yeltsin walking out of the recent
meeting with a loud clamour. Leaving the OSSE meeting in a shambles..
> Yes well this is an incomplete way of posing the national question.
> We agree that we are against Russian intervention. But how to be for
> Chechen independence but against its Islamic bourgeoisie? Only by
> putting the demand for Chechen self-determination to Russian workers
> and troops. That's the only way to unite Russian and Chechen masses
> against both of their bourgeoisies and to fight for a Socialist
> Federation of the former Soviet Union.
Well I think the central task is tell inform the Russian workers and soldiers that the
main enemy is at home.
> What's the confusion about Russia as a capitalist semi-colony? Its
> not a workers state, and its not an imperialist state. Its in a
> transition which is more likely to see it collapse and fragment
> further under imperialist pressure, than become an imperialist state.
> Its you who are confusionist.
Well tell me now that we live in a vacum. The "Russian" economy has collapsed. No the
Soviet Union and its economy has collapsed and in its place there is something else.
This you can not describe for me other then being some sort of semi colony. You are
empirically labeling the destitution of the masses in the former Soviet Union as semi
colonialoist without taking into question the entire new counter revolutionary
segments of society that have taken over and are quite successful and philthy rich
because of the overturn. However this is not enough to consolidate their class rule
yet. But they certainly are working on it.
>Your characterisation of Russia as
> imperialist is based on impressionistic criteria, mainly it seems
> your ability to mind read the intentions of the ' imperialist
> wannabes' or to flip back in time to the Tsar as if the recent
> counter-revolution was really just a bourgeois democratic revolution
> so that now instead of the Tsar we have a bonapartist Yeltsin.
I don't think that this is impressionistic at all. What made the former Russian empire
imperialist? It was hardly its riches but its ability to mobilize vast armies of
peasants as cannon fodder for the appetites of the czars. In fact the economy of
Russia today connected to its nuclear punch is a far more powerful instrument then the
czars ever had.
> Ironically this is close to the position of the western bourgeoisies
> who now see Russia as having emerged from barbarism into democracy.
> But they are not so blind as to suppose that Russia is a "big power"
> and an economic threat. They are not even very concerned about
> Russia's miiltary power unless some whacko Zirinovsky type gets
> control of the buttons. Theyre more concerned about Bin Laden and
> handheld nukes.
Oh I think the imperialists are extremely worried about Russia and all of the former
Soviet Union irregardless of who has power. Certainly who has poiwer determines the
various options and course of development but also imperialism as the higest stage of
capitalism points the way to a renewed devision of the spoils being that Yalta is to
say the least a bit out of date. In fact your arguement about the west seems to lead
towards the conclusion of super imperialism has arrived in the name of "the
democracies". I thing that the destreuction of the SU has sent us directly in the
other direction of growing inter imperialist rivalies to once again redevide the
>Meanwhile, we have the reality of Russia as
> a huge cot case, stagnating and imploding against a background of
> an impending world economic crisis and a more expansionist and
> agressive US and EU. A war between Russia and these imperialist
> powers right now would not be between imperialists to divide the
> world, but between imperialism and an oppressed semi-colony.
> In that situation, whatever the popular consciousness of the US and
> EU labour aristocracies hostile to Russia, we would have to swim
> against the stream and defend Russia. As a Spart, no doubt you will
> take your cue form the anti-Russian sentiment in the US working class
> and not run the risk of getting offside with the most advanced
> working class in the world by backing Russia against the US.
Here I disagree with you. There are two economies in the former SU. One which
collapsed and the remains conciously destroyed and then the other which has come out
of this destruction. You confuse the two into one. A united imperialist war against
Russia I believe to be a utopia. They almost could not get it together in the former
Yugoslvia and only after the Germans got everything they wanted was it possibvle. I
doubt very much that this would be the case in Russia. A war on this scale would
immediately lead to a nuclear confrontation with China being drawn in.
> The key question is whether imperialism oppresses Russia or not.
> If it does, which is what we argue, then Russian workers will
> experience this and bloc with their bourgeoisie, regardless of any
> Trotskyist sect in its shopfront declaring Russia to be imperialist.
Well historiucally that has always been the problem. Lack of a revolutionary party
leads directly to all this crap.
But Lenin was certainly a sect in this sense and certainly was very clear on the class
character of the war and what the Russian workers should do as well as other' workers
in their countries.
> Therefore, in order to break them from their bourgeoisie, especially
> the openly fascist red brown forces who blame Jews, minorities etc
> for this oppression, we have to mobilise Western workers to bloc with
> them against the main imperialist enemy. Especially when that enemy
> masquerades as 'democratic' and 'humanitarian' and paints the Russian
> bourgeoisie as barbaric, semi-feudal, etc.
Are you toying with some kind of popular front against the nationalists, semi fascists
and fascist groupings in Russia. In fact the possibility of installing a fascist
regime in Russia with its own imperialist intentions is possible unless the more
"democratic" bourgeois forces can find there own solution to the problem. But both are
part of the same problem.
You do the same thing here or use the same methodology that you do with the collasped
Russian economy . Here to you take sides with the democratic bourgeoisie against those
baddies. But fascism is a direct outcome of capitalisam/imperialism in crisis just as
the destruction and collapse of the former Soviet economy has been replaced with
And you are looking for and easy way out of this stuff through and anti imperialist
united front on one hand and backhandely supporting the democratic bourgeiosie against
the baddies in Russia. This is empirism and bad politics according to me and adaption
to Stalinist politics in a sense..
>Only by doing this can we
> avoid a repeat of 1914 which seems to be Bob's big fear, when most
> workers on all sides succumbed to patriotism. Bob's position with its
> "the main enemy is at home" mantra cannot deal with a world in which
> there are oppressor and oppressed nations - that is the imperialist
> epoch. Why? Because the Spart method is to adapt to US patriotism in
> its labour aristocracy, so the enemies of Amerika become the enemies
> of the Amerikan labour aristocracy, and the enemies of the Sparts.
> This follows the position taken by JP Cannon during WW2 when the
> SWP succumbed to mass pressure and supported the war against Hitler
> and downplayed their opposition to the main enemy at home. Bob is
> heading for the same betrayal when a war with Russia would see the
> Sparts declaring dual defeatism, but in practice adapting to a war
> against some fascist leader of the 'imperialist' Russia rather than
> opposing the main enemy at home.
Well I canīt quite see that taking the position that the main enemy is at home somehow
is and adaption to the American labor bureaucracy. But what you do is raise the
national question and put it on a pedistal in a period of imperialism in decline in
order to deny the class character of this period as a period of wars and possible
revolutions. You are looking for a handle to build and anti imperialist united front
of poor countries against the rich countries at best. Well I doubt for the first that
a united imperialism would attack the ex Soviet Union. It denys any reason from
history. Quite the contrary Russia in the next war will be aligned with one or another
imperialisms in a thrird world war.
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