International Socialist Center Christian Rakovsky: Whither Russia? Neither liberalism nor Bonapartism but Socialism!
Statement by the International Socialist Center ‘Christian Rakovsky”
On Alexei Navalny’s arrest and the protests
Neither liberalism nor Bonapartism but Socialism!
1. The return of the liberal oppositionist Navalny from Germany to Russia, his imprisonment and the mass protests that followed demanding his release manifest a growing political crisis in the heartland of the former Soviet Union that US-EU-NATO imperialism tries to exploit to the maximum and which repression by Putin’s Bonapartist regime cannot but exacerbate.
The sources of this crisis are very deep: in the unresolved and ever sharpening social contradictions, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the turn to capitalist restoration, and their interaction with the deepening world capitalist crisis. Independently of how the Navalny affair will evolve in the near future, the crucial question is posed again: where is Russia going within the current world chaos?
Putin’s restorationist regime tries to save by brutal repressive means and a huge bureaucratic State machine a precarious status quo balancing between oligarchic groups of interest based on a mainly oil and gas exporting economy condemned to stagnation, and threatened now by the rapidly deepening world slump. The Covid 19 pandemic compounded the crisis and its devastating social effects. Discontent and protests from workers and popular strata in the regions were spreading independently from Navalny’s political activities, particularly against the anti-popular measures on pensions.
Now, the social base of the pro-Navalny protests is mainly young students, small entrepreneurs, and dissatisfied oligarchs concentrated in the biggest urban centers (Moscow, St Petersburg/Leningrad, Yekaterinburg), shaken by the sharpening crisis, uncertainty, and stagnation that blocks any future, protesting against State oppression and corruption, investing their vain hopes to bourgeois liberalism and to a rapid integration to the ‘West”. Navalny- a demagogue preaching a combination of liberalism, nationalism cum racism and pro-Western obedience to imperialism- cultivates this fertile field of frustrations, and he is promoted both by Russian compradores and by Germany, the EU, and the US imperialists.
2. Not accidentally, in his first formal communication with Vladimir Putin, the newly elected US President Joe Biden, apart from keeping the last remaining nuclear arms treaty START, did not forget to emphasize and condemn the imprisonment of Navalny. This attitude by itself shows that the Novalnyi affair and the protests under the leadership of Russian liberal opposition, far from being an exclusively internal matter of Russian national politics, have international dimensions and consequences.
Even before Trump and his strategists raise Russia and China as “the chief strategic risks” for the US, there was a long continuity of strategic targeting the post-Soviet space and particularly the post-Soviet Russian Federation by Western imperialism, and particularly the US. Already Zbigniew Brzezinski, the architect of the Afghanistan war, had insisted, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, that the Russian Federation itself had to be fragmented and “neutralized’ i.e. colonized to avoid to see it rising again as a superpower challenge and geopolitical risk for US hegemony in Eurasia and globally. The same logic follows the fragmentation of former Yugoslavia by the wars of the 1990s, NATO’s expansion to Russian borders, the so-called “color (counter) revolutions”, the EU intervention and then the US fomented coup in Ukraine in 2014 and the civil war in Donbass, the recent EU involvement in the popular unrest in Belarus in 2020, the reactionary wars in Caucasus. There is a continuity of US NATO policies towards the post-Soviet space from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush Jr to Obama/Biden/Hillary Clinton, through the upheavals of Trump’s Presidency to President Biden now. It is not an accident that, in his Administration, the State Department Under Secretary is none other than the notorious Victoria Nuland who masterminded the Ukrainian coup in 2014 together with the current US ambassador in Greece Geoffrey Pyatt.
It is well known that the new Biden Administration drives to achieve again “global leadership” of the declining US world hegemony. Otherwise, it cannot re-establish any internal equilibrium in a divided America, at the brink of civil war, as the Capitol invasion under Trump’s orders and the complicity of a significant part of the State apparatuses on January 6, 2021 clearly demonstrated.
Biden needs to restore the Euro-Atlantic axis seriously damaged previously by Trump, and to strengthen again NATO aiming in priority against Russia. This anti-Russian campaign is vital for US imperialism to re-establish control on the Eurasia and thus on the Middle East, Iran, and, of course, China, as the strongest world economic rival of the US.
It is in this concrete global historical context that the current phase of the Navalny affair, much publicized by mainstream bourgeois media globally, has to be seen and not just as a local, national clash between liberal democracy and Kremlin’s dictatorship. Navalny’s return to Russia looks more like a Western inspired provocation than an “heroic” act of faith to democratic principles.
3. Kremlin’s Bonapartist regime of brutal repression and State authoritarianism is NOT the solution to the problem posed by the entire situation, globally and nationally, but an integral part of the problem itself. The real historic material basis of the problem is the disastrous re-integration of the former Soviet Union into a world capitalism in decline plunging in an unprecedented non-resolved structural crisis.
The Covid-19 pandemic itself, including its mismanagement by the capitalist governments, blind vaccine nationalism (already denounced by the “Christian Rakovsky” Center in December 2020), the savage competition between the Big Pharmaceuticals seeking profit from human suffering and death, proves beyond any doubt that Capitalism as a social system has become totally incompatible with the most direct and urgent needs of the actual life process itself.
The choice in front of the peoples of Russia is not between an “orderly” accommodation, under State control, or a liberal absorption to the same world capitalist chaos, which promises only another form of barbaric colonization of the former Soviet lands.
Putin’s Bonapartism stays on the moving sands of a stagnating, shrinking economy, in conditions of a global Great Depression, confronting a growing popular unrest. It cannot keep for long the unstable equilibrium of the pre-crisis period. Bonapartist repression is not a remedy but a poison , a recipe for disaster
On the other side, liberal democracy is in a death agony as it is demonstrated by the rise of the far right and fascist trends in Europe and America. Under the smokescreen of “democratic” demagogic speeches. like those of Navalny, it is not freedom and an alternative to brutal State authoritarianism to come, but another form of brutal dictatorship under semi-colonial conditions. The experience of the Yeltsin ‘shock therapy’ liberal years of fake “democracy” and of oligarchic gangsterism bringing social catastrophe and default was a tragedy; it cannot be repeated even as a farce but as a new and worse tragedy.
A class “war against all the castles of capital” (to repeat an appropriate slogan by the United Communist Party/OKP) has to be waged to achieve peace, bread and freedom for the people!
No more stealing by oligarchs of the social wealth produced by the toilers but expropriation of all oligarchs, without compensation under workers’ control!
Stop the repression of the popular protests. Liberation of the political prisoners. Election of the courts and judges from below, by the people.
No bourgeois liberal ‘democracy’ for a few exploiters but workers’ democracy for the majority of the working people!
No to Bonapartism, all power to new genuine Soviets, for Socialism!
Defeat the US, EU, NATO imperialist war plans, by mobilizing the masses under the flag of proletarian internationalism, for the socialist unification of all the peoples from Lisbon to Vladivostok!
February 1, 2021
The International Socialist Center “Christian Rakovsky”
EEK (Workers Revolutionary Party-Greece)
DIP (Revolutionary Workers Party-Turkey)
OKP (United Communist Party-Russian Federation)
Association “Soviet Union”
MTL( Marxist Workers League - Finland)
ROR (Renaissance Ouvrière Révolutionaire-France)