Surely, every Century surely has its prominent lies, given that “history belongs to the victors, those who win the war [and] write the story” and that much of the past few centuries at least, has been about conflict and war, as has all of the 21st Century, to date. But the 20th Century is the one I am most familiar with and it seems to me that it was principally about Class War; a phase of the struggle to overcome the monarchies that were borne of feudal times.
The Dutch defiance of Philip of Spain in the early 17th C, the English “Civil War” (none so rude as to call it revolution?) and the French Revolution were all momentous events of this struggle that set the stage for the 20th C. The Russian Revolution, the two World Wars (despite all the propagandist nonsense fed to the infantile masses of colonising countries and their colonies about fighting for “God, King and Country”) and The Cold War were all violent events of contention over ideology and that ideology was the intellectual conceptualisation of Class War.
The recording and interpretation of history has been profoundly impacted by the invention of the printing press (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printing_press) in the mid-15th C and the development of modern, electronic communications technology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_telegraph), which began in earnest in the early 19th C. Both of these technologies developed and proliferated rapidly due to their importance to power; the victors shape the story with the principal objective of sustaining and perpetuating their minority dominance of the majority. In this process the 20th Century has seen a transition from the making of assertions about the nature of events after they happen to that of dominating the analysis and interpretation of them as they happen; a transition that occurred, not exclusively but most radically during WW2 with Hitler’s systematic and technological application of propaganda , an innovation of the Roman Catholic Church of three centuries before.
Today we see it in “spin”, embedded journalism and computer-generated “twitter revolutions”. We have “democracy” driving the bus with a rosy picture of the road ahead painted on the inside of the windscreen. We live in global slurry of untruths and disinformation, all of it insoluble in the truth on which a healthy human existence in harmony with our planet depends. My contention here is that the two greatest of those untruths, the quintessence of the present condition of humanity, are:
- Communism is a failed system
- The Soviet Union was defeated and with it Socialism.
A Modicum of Truth
The first of these lies is the easiest to dismiss, even ridicule, by a mere statement of fact. Communist China has, for more than half a century, sustained a population of 1.3 billion people, albeit in humble, even perhaps impoverished condition. The significance of this achievement is too easily dismissed, perhaps not even appreciated by someone who owns a media empire and lives a disconnected life. However, when one comes to appreciate that this population represents a fifth of the total human population of the planet and is sustained with a level of consumption that is less than one tenth of the world’s natural resources, it clearly deserves respect.
Furthermore, when one considers that despite the inheritance of widespread opium addiction inflicted by the former colonial masters, “the new [Communist] China created [a] drug-free atmosphere by strict legislation and punishment”, a situation that has begun to erode since the 1980s and the open-door policy. Longevity also rose from 35 years in 1949 to 73 in 2008 while infant mortality declined from 300 per thousand in the 1950s to around 23 per thousand in 2006 (details sourced from Wikipedia).
That the cheer-leaders of Capitalism in the world’s largest and most affluent Capitalist economy laud the change as China ostensibly succumbs to the glitzy allure of Capitalism, calling it evidence of the “failure of Communism”, neglect to mention that over a third of Americans live in poverty, unable to afford proper health care, that the US lags behind all of Western Europe in terms of both longevity and infant mortality but leads the Western World by far in terms of homicide rate and violent crime while 22 million over-twelve Americans (over 9% of the population) have drug dependency issues. All this in a nation, which, despite consuming over a third of the world’s natural resources (procured principally by violence), is unable to provide decent, dignified life prospects for all of its 308 million population (a mere 5% of the total human population cf. China’s 21%).
These revellers of the Capitalist orgy either fail to notice or choose not to care that this “economic reformation” of China has brought with it the predictable and marked increase in environmental degradation, water and air pollution and drug abuse with the necessarily attendant increase in HIV/AIDS and respiratory diseases. They lack the imagination to appreciate the implications for the biosphere and an already suffering planet of a new Capitalist engine that produces a million cars a week and the expansion of irrational Capitalist materialism into a nation with over a billion citizens.
A Reckless Disregard for Human Achievement
The first great lie is the easiest to dismiss, but the second is more nebulous, if no less nefarious. It’s also the most painful to contemplate because it represents a triumph of criminal immorality and violence over all of the more worthy human aspirations and a reckless disregard for human achievement and higher aspiration.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Soviet achievement of putting the first man into outer space when cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin flew the Vostok space craft in a complete orbit of the earth on April 12, 1961. It would be a tragedy of our time if this event is seen only to mark some past glory of one of two great superpowers in its hey-day, prior to its defeat and collapse at the end of the cold war; history according to the capitalist propaganda machine. A comparison of the real histories of the two superpowers gives sobering reflection.
The October Revolution of 1917 deposed the Russian monarchy, a feudal relic that had kept Russia trapped in the past and stunted in its growth; a rural, agrarian society of illiterate peasants. When the Bolsheviks took control of the country and began organising society and the economy along the lines of the communist ideology set forth by Marx and Engels as a system of local soviet collectives a rapid modernisation and re-organisation of production began that brought industrialisation to Russia on the principle of improving the production efficiency and quality of life in communities rather than, as had been the case elsewhere, the harsh exploitation and attendant suffering and deprivation of the many for the generation of wealth for a privileged few. To consider that in the space of 44 years, even not accounting for other impedimental factors to be considered here later, this backward society should rise to the attainment of a modern, 20th Century industrial society, a superpower capable of pioneering space exploration is nothing less than astounding.
But we must not forget that from the outset, Soviet Russia was surrounded by established Western Capitalist states; monarchies with oppressed populations subordinate to a privileged aristocracy, inured to industrial exploitation and persuaded by the propaganda of flag patriotism to the imperialist, colonialist mentality. For their elites, Soviet Russia, a nation borne of revolution and with its masses free of the yoke of monarchical and religious domination had to be strangled at birth; for their masses it was a potential source of inspiration, which of itself posed a mortal threat to the Capitalist elites. Soviet Russia was ostracised and universally denied diplomatic recognition by the Western World (which, amusingly, included the revolutionary republics of the United States and France).
From early British colonies established in the beginning of the 17th Century the United States, in contrast to the Soviet Union, grew by expulsion and genocide of a native people who had originally welcomed and given succour to the colonists (consider this similarity with Israel) and later developed by the labours of more than 20 million slaves brought in chains from Africa to generate the wealth of a fledgling aristocracy. The revolution that gave birth to the United States as an independent nation is more clearly seen by Europeans and the rest of the world as a conflict between a new world and an old world aristocracy fought for them by a working class populace who remain, over 200 years later, deluded in the notion that their struggle brought them “freedom and democracy”. Only in the past decade have Americans begun to realise that their cherished constitution is as worthless as a Hollywood “feel-good”, simply because, as a collective, the people lack the wit, courage and means to exercise its provisions to overthrow a government that fails to protect their rights and freedoms.
Within half a century of obtaining independence the United States had set about the business of acquiring new territory by armed force and violence in Texas, California, Hawaii, Cuba and the Philippines and has been actively engaged in undermining the independence of other countries all over the world ever since. A common theme in all of these conflicts was the disguise or justification of provocative or aggressive measures on the grounds of defence against a perceived or alleged threat. It was applied relentlessly against the native Indians throughout their extermination, against the Mexicans as a prelude to the acquisition of Texas and we have seen it applied in recent times against Iraq (WMD), the conduct of military exercises off the Korean coast and the ongoing harassment of Iran. Under the warm glow of our own cold war propaganda it was easy to believe that the Soviet Union posed a constant military threat to the west but it takes little effort of thought to realise that the diversion of resources by the Soviet Union into military protection against possible attack by the US was a reluctant choice in a nation whose economy was NOT founded on the motivation of profit and the vast fortunes to be made by the endless cycle of design, manufacture and disposal of military capital in war. The real fear that motivated the Capitalist, minority-dominated US was that the Soviet Union could pose the threat of a better example of social and economic order and was willing to promote the truly democratic aspirations of ordinary people living under oppressive regimes.
Contrary to the myth of “WW2 according to Hollywood” the United States, far from “saving the world from the tyranny of Hitler”, did much as it had done in WW1 in benefiting both financially and strategically by financing and observing the progress of the war from the side lines before a late entry contributing a decisive factor to what was already a likely outcome. It was not the western allies that defeated Hitler’s armies, it was the Soviet Union and the victory was achieved at enormous cost and without any economic windfall, as was derived by the US from its involvement.
Today, Obama perpetuates the lies, as in his London speech in May 2011:
“Hitler's armies would not have stopped their killing had we not fought them on the beaches and on the landing grounds, in the fields and on the streets. We must never forget that there was nothing inevitable about our victory in that terrible war. It was won through the courage and character of our people.”
WW2 had been under way almost 2 years when Germany invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 but the advance of the seemingly-invincible German Army was halted by the harsh winter and The Red Army at the Battle of Moscow. After months of bitter fighting at The Battle of Stalingrad, Hitler’s army was finally turned back in early 1943; a turning point of the war in which The Soviets dealt a severe blow to the Germans from which they never fully recovered and following which Soviet forces drove through Eastern Europe, all the way to Berlin before Germany surrendered in 1945. Note that the Russian advance, driving back the German army commenced in early 1943, more than a year before the Allied Invasion and the D-Day landings at Normandy in June 1944. These are telling facts in a world deluded by the Hollywood propaganda awash with the glory of the alleged “American-led Allied defeat of Germany”. Over 27 Million Soviets lost their lives defeating the Germans in WW2, lies that mask and diminish such sacrifice and courage are shameful in the extreme.
The Disneyland tale that has been carefully narrated by the world’s corporate media before, during and after the demise of the Soviet Union in 1989 portrays a struggle between the reforming Gorbachov and the entrenched, resistant communist party, a personal battle between the idealistic Gorbachov and the corrupt, belligerent Yeltsin who later entered into direct, violent conflict with the Russian parliament and finally a series of revolutions that began in Poland in 1989, and continued in Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Romania. Much has been made of the campaigns of civil resistance demonstrating popular opposition to the government with the grand hypocrisy of Thatcher and Regan commending Lek Walensa and his Solidarity movement while violently oppressing union activity at home.
Yet to talk to people in Eastern Europe – in Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia one would imagine that they woke up and turned on their radio one morning to hear that there had been a revolution and they all got on a bus to the Berlin Wall to have a look. The “official narrative” of those events that we all observed over those years just doesn’t stand up to any test of objective reality. True, there were confronting demonstrations, but clearly nothing on a scale to overthrow a superpower with a well-equipped machinery for oppressing its masses.
The “gentle revolution” theory clearly ignores the underlying machinations of organised criminality and clandestine secret service activity that engineered a silent coup (as in the US and Australia) now pervades and dominates the international political and economic reality and was alleged to have been “taken completely by surprise” by the collapse of the Soviet Union.
A different world was possible and it was actively sought by John Kennedy.
By the time of Kennedy’s decision to sack Dulles as head of the CIA, however, the organisation he led was already a force funded and controlled independently of the government, actively involved in organised crime and participating in the illicit drugs industry while engaged in subversive activities against the governments of other countries for the benefit of private American corporations. Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who allegedly acted alone in assassinating Kennedy was clearly involved with the CIA and the US military, as was the man who killed him; Jack Ruby. Oswald was freely able to “defect” to the Soviet Union only to later just as freely return to the US bringing his Russian wife with him. If we are capable of reasoning and logically deducing anything at all we should recognise that the Kennedy experience has been a warning to every political leader since then that any loss of support of the secret services could lead to a “fatal lapse in security”.
There is an abundance of documented material available now from former insiders and other well-informed sources that should inform us of the reality that the secret services of many countries are now intermeshed and that they provide a hub that interconnects and serves the interests of organised crime (laundering money, couriering illicit materials and selectively providing information and the means to violence) no less than they do the interests of “respectable” corporations (undermining governments, facilitating industrial espionage, providing sensitive information and creating illicit, competitive advantages); generally making the world safe for corruption.
Belligerent thugs like Yeltsin and stealthy cutthroats like Putin were the champions of corruption that flourished in the Soviet Union who inherited the sale-rights to the national assets of its people. By the time of the collision of Yeltsin and Gorbachov they were part of a network of organised crime that nowadays is the body and spirit of Russian economic infrastructure. The successful domination of the Soviet government by organised crime almost certainly came about by way of financial and material support from the US mediated through the KGB-CIA channels, which, by the 1980’s was more like a collegial network than a pair of opposing, clandestine armies. While being constantly faced with the threat of direct military attack (characterised in western propaganda as “our defences”) The Soviet Union was also being undermined from within by the cultivation of organised crime and corruption.
Informed by this interpretation of the context of the “end of the Cold War” a hypothesis of government buy-out seems far more plausible than a revolutionary overthrow. If we imagine that the many senior members of governments of the Soviet Union were paid off in six figure sums to retire and depart to another country, let us say 1000 at $4M each, we can arrive at a figure that is less than a fifth of the sum offered to the Turkish government in 2003 for the assistance of allowing US planes to attack Iraq from Turkish air-bases (an offer the government dared not accept in the face of a vehement 95% popular opposition).
In 1992 I was exploring the Lake District of northern England where I met a large group of Russian-speaking students. They were the children of former Soviet politicians now very wealthy, living in Greece and sending their children to expensive English private schools and to holiday in the English favourite places. My conversations with them and the insights I gleaned about their attitude to US/Soviet relations, the Cold War and the so-called “revolutions” seemed to me more in line with the buy-out theory.
Arrogance and Treachery
The Gorbachov course towards more open and democratic government in the Soviet Union and a winding-down of the Cold War was the compromise course, one that aligns with ideals of a moral and legitimate world order based on values of decency, integrity and fair dealing backed up by the rule of law, rather than that of “Sodom and Gomorrah” and a world ruled by criminal psychopaths. Gorbachov was deceived and betrayed by people of this order who held more in common with the likes of thugs like Yeltsin and who wanted nothing less than the complete destruction of the Soviet Union and a universal perception that “Socialism had been defeated”. The price to be paid in suffering, poverty and all-pervasive triumph of crime and violence in the former Soviet Union was not a factor to be considered.
The falsehoods that cloak the criminal wrong-doing of our national leadership are perpetuated in deceitful propaganda such as Obama’s London speech of May 2011:
“Together with our allies, we forged a lasting peace from a cold war. When the Iron Curtain lifted, we expanded our alliance to include the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, and built new bridges to Russia and the former states of the Soviet Union.”
The “bridges” to Russia already existed at the end of the Cold War; they were bridges of criminal connection through the conduit of secret services.
So when foolish Americans snarl at the word “Socialism” and smugly brag that the Soviet Union was defeated by the US and Capitalism it is a half -truth, the wrong half. The Soviet Union was defeated, yes, by military violence and the constant threat of it from without and by the insidious violence and stealthy corruption by a cancer of criminality within, funded, aided and abetted by forces from without.
So the great lie about the defeat of the Soviet Union in the 20th Century exists in a half-truth that lives on in the 21st Century and the other half of that truth is the one that we will all have to live with throughout the coming century, the truth of the need of Capitalism for relentless military violence and its deep rooted foundations in the other violence of crime, corruption and ruthless inhumanity that are its life-blood and soul. It’s in the gulf between these two half-truths that we find a reckless disregard for all the very best of human achievement.
The lies continue and they grow more sickening; we have reached a state of toxic hypocrisy in Obama’s recent statement in his London speech of May 2011:
“And as we fight an enemy that respects no law of war, we will continue to hold ourselves to a higher standard -- by living up to the values, the rule of law and due process that we so ardently defend.”
Disneyland rhetoric in a world ruled by psychopathic criminals.
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|Liaquat Ali Khan|