Let  me  begin  by  congratulating  Binu  Mathew  on  his  probing  queries  during  his  interview  with  Andre  Vltchek,  which  brought  out  a  powerfully  honest  narrative  from  this  world-known  public  intellectual,  who  dares  to  describe  himself  as  a  “..Revolutionary  and  Internationalist.’

Since  these  two  issues  –  revolution  and  internationalism  –  had  been  a  part  of  my  life  since  the  1950s,  both  at  the  levels  of  theoretical  arguments  on  the  one  hand,  and  praxis  as  a   Communist  activist  on  the  other  –  may  I  enter  into  a  comradely  debate  with  Andre  Vltchek  ?

I  am  moved  by  Andre  Vltchek’s  account  of  his  childhood,  about  his  grand-parents  and  parents  who  came  from  a  family  that  fought  the  Nazis,  and  yet  also  faced  Stalinist  persecution  in  the  post-War  years.  I  hold  up  my  fist  into  a  Red  Salute  to  him  for  his  steadfast  belief  in  the  cause  of    Communism,  and  his  active  involvement  in  movements  all  over  the world  that  are  fighting  for  that  cause.

Having  said  that,  I  want  to  express  a  few  reservations  about  some  of  the  opinions  that  he  subscribes  to.  First,  he  rightly  talks  about  how  Western  capitalist  media propaganda  had  shaped  public  perceptions  against  the  Soviet  Union.  He  then  suggests  that  the  Left  should  also  invest  in  the  media  to  counter  the  false  news  from  the  West.  May  I  remind  Andre  Vltchek  that  the  Left  has  had  a  long  history  of  propaganda  of  alternative  news  –  from  the  days  of  the  Soviet  Union  ?  To  recount  my  personal  experiences  as  a  student  in  India  in  the  1950s,  we  had  free  access  to  Soviet  news  channels  like  Moscow  Radio,  magazines  like  `Soviet  Land,’   and  publicity  materials  from  Progress  Publishers  in  Moscow  –  which  told  us  how  a  happy   life  the  citizens  were leading  in  the  USSR  !  These  news  reinforced  our  faith  in  the  Soviet  Union.

But  all  that  we  believed  by  relying  on   this  Soviet  media,  was  shattered  by  the revelations  made  by  Khrushchov  at  the  historic  20th  party  Congress  of  the  CPSU.  We   were  woken  up  to  the  atrocities  carried  out  by  Stalin  –  reports  about   which  had  come  out  in  the  Western  press  earlier  but  which   we  had  till  then  tended  to  dismiss  as  bourgeois  propaganda’  !   We  all  of  a   sudden  realized  that  we  had  been brain-washed’  by   false  information  (that  covered  up  the  reality  at  the  ground  level)  – what  is  known  today  as  fake  news.’   Soon  after  that,  the  Soviet  invasion  of  Hungary  came  as  another  blow,  followed  by  the  rolling  down  of  Soviet  tanks  in  Czechoslovakia  a  decade  later.  We  felt  that  this  was  not  how    the  Soviet  Union   should  deal  with  dissent  among  member  states  of  the  international  Communist  community.    Many  among  us  in  the  1960s  turned  to  Mao-led   China,  in  search  of    an  alternative  model  of   socialism    -  again  deriving  inspiration  from  the  reports  of  how  democracy  flourished  under  Mao’s   message:  “Let  a  hundred  flowers  bloom”,   how  the  rural  poor  prospered   through  communes  there,  and  how  the   Communist  ideological  impulses  were  being  restored  through  the  Cultural  Revolution.  Within  a  few  decades,  our  search  ended  into  a  political  cul-de-suc  -   when  we  were  stumped  by  revelations  about  the  persecution  of  Chinese  dissidents  who  “bloomed”  as  flowers  but  extinguished  soon  after,  about  famines  and  deaths  in  Chinese  villages  during  the  much-propagated Great  Leap  Forward’,   and  the  devastations  brought  about  by  Mao-led   `Cultural  Revolution’.   Like  the  post-Stalin  rulers  in  the  Soviet  Union  who  revealed  the  atrocities  of  their  erstwhile  leader,  the  post-Mao  rulers  of  China   also  disclosed  the   ill-effects  of   the policies  that   their  erstwhile political  guru  followed.  But  like  their  post-Stalin  Russian  counterparts  (who have   indulged  in  violent  suppression  of   human  rights),  the  Chinese  post-Mao  rulers  have  also  trodden  the  same  bloody  path  of  killing  dissidents  –  the  most  notorious  illustration  being  the  massacre  at  Tien-en-Man square.

Despite  these  repeated  disappointments  and  disillusionment  with  the  degeneration  of  the  two  main Marxist  Communist- inspired  states  (the  former  Soviet  Union,  and  China  which  still  claims  to  be  Communist  !),                                             I  still  retain my  faith  in  the  need  for  a  Communist  society  –  to  be  built by  a  new  generation  which  can lift  itself  up  from  the  present  downward   path  of  degeneration,  and  revive  the  basic   principles  of  Communism  in  its  praxis.   I   make  a  distinction  between  the   basic  Communist  principles on  the  one  hand,   and  the  socialist  system  of  governance  that  had  been  followed  in  the Soviet  Union  and  China,  which  violated  these  principles  on  the  other.

It  is  in  this  context  of  the  failure  of  the  socialist  systems  of  governance  (whether  the  past  Soviet,  or  the  present  Chinese)  that  I  want  to  raise  the  next  query.  Is  it  only  the  Western  conspiracies  that  Vltchek  mentions  (“terror  implanted  from  abroad”  to  overthrow  Left  regimes,  and  anti-Communist  propaganda  to  brainwash  the  populace  there –  arguments  with which  I  totally  agree),  or  were  there  also  internal  subjective  factors  that  led  to  the  collapse  of  the  Soviet  Union   and  the East  European  Communist  party-led regimes  ?  Instead  of  blaming  individuals  like  Gorbachov  or  “criminal  alcoholic  Yeltsin”  for  the  disaster,  shouldn’t  Vltchek,  being  a  serious  scholar,  delve  into  the  more  fundamental  problems  ?    Problems   associated   with  the  authoritarian  model  of  the   socialist  regimes  that  was  adopted  by  the  Bolsheviks  in  the  Soviet  Union,  and  the  Mao-led  Communist  Party   in  China.  Ill-conceived  economic  policies  that  hit  hard  common  citizens  giving  rise  to  increasing disgruntlement,                                            which  broke  out  in  sporadic  outbursts.  The  brutal  methods  adopted by  these  Communist Party-led  socialist regimes  to  crush  such  manifestations  of   protest,  and  the  imprisonment  of  the  intelligentsia  who  dared  to  support  them.  All  through  their  history  as  rulers  –  whether  in  the  past  Soviet  Union,  or  in  Kampuchea  in  the  1980s,  or  in  China  today  –  the  ruling  Communist  parties  in  their  respective  states,  while  indeed  lifting  up  the  poor  to  some  extent  by  equitable  distribution  of  resources  in  the  initial  period,   had  shown  scant  respect  for  human  rights.  It  is  this  inglorious  record   that  hangs  heavy  on  the  Left  parties.  They  can  restore  their  credibility by  denouncing  and  rejecting  this  anti-democratic   legacy ,  and  reviving  their  links  with  the  grass-roots  movements in  different  parts  of  the  world,  which  Andre  Vltchek  has  been  covering  in  his  writings  in  such   an  illuminating  way.   Revolutionaries  and  Internationalists  thus,  should  also  engage  in  self-introspection,  to  examine  the  mistakes  and  misdeeds  committed  by  their  leaders,  whether  in  power  or   outside,  so  that   they   don’t  get  repeated

Sumanta Banerjee is a political and civil rights activist and social scientist. Email:

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  1. Farooque Chowdhury says:

    Thanks, Sumanta da, as you reiterate: “I hold up my fist into a Red Salute to him for his steadfast belief in the cause of Communism.”

    Thanks for your proposal: “Revolutionaries and Internationalists thus, should also engage in self-introspection, to examine the mistakes and misdeeds committed by their leaders, whether in power or outside, so that they don’t get repeated.”

    Examining and re-examining are needed.

    It takes time, mistakes and errors, to sort out problems in any system including political system. The bourgeoisie are struggling with their political system after so many years, centuries.

  2. Red Robbo says:

    Marx advocated the abolition of the wages system: in China, in contrast, wage labour was extended to a much larger proportion of the population.
    In his Report of an Investigation into the Peasant Movement in Hunan (1927), Mao admitted that the coming revolution would not be socialist: ‘To overthrow these feudal forces is the real objective of the revolution’.
    Mao is reported to have told a US diplomat in 1945: ‘China needs to build up light industries to supply her own market and raise the living standards of her own people. Eventually she can supply these goods to other countries in the Far East. To help pay for this foreign trade and investment, she has raw materials and agricultural products. America is not only the most suitable country to assist this economic development of China: she is also the only country fully able to participate. ‘
    Mao, like Lenin before him, hastened the development of capitalism. Lenin wrote of Russia in 1918: ‘reality says that State capitalism would be a step forward for us; if we were able to bring about State capitalism in a short time it would be a victory for us’ (The Chief Task of Our Time).

  3. Einar Schlereth says:

    Dear Samanta Banerjee,
    unfortunately, like millions of others, you let yourself be deceived by the damn liar Khrushchev, Solchenyzin, Shukov, Gorbachev and so on. Marshall Shukov later revoked his statements in his memoirs and created a true picture of Stalin.
    In the meantime, the archives in Moscow have all been opened and the truth about Stalin has come to light. Here is a good about the latest research in German – but that’s no problem. You can easily translate the texts into seven different languages in very good quality with this new translator program

    Best regards


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