Comments on the article, The return of the Russian Revolution By Gerry Downing 24/7/14

24/07/2014 by socialistfight


Victor Serge reverted to his anti-Bolshivism in his later years, invoking Trotsky’s anger by supporting the Spanish Anarchists who betrayed the Spanish Revolution. This is the Serge the Praxis Centre is using, not the Serge who rejected Anarchism to become a Bolshevik after 1917

This article appears on the Moscow Praxis Centre’s website. [1] Kirill Buketov, who spoke in defence of the Euro Maidan and the Kiev government on John McDonnell’s invite on 9 July in the House of Commons is from the Praxis Centre in Moscow, an affiliate of the Global Labour Institute. It is a neo-liberal tract which is attempting to organise a “colour revolution” in Russia to assist US finance capital to overthrow the Putin government and allow Imperialism’s unhindered penetration into Russia. The article is replete with passages and sentences which reveal its true agenda, although always the author seeks to hide this behind a gloss of ‘peace and democracy’ type phrases. The author obvious has had a left political education, quoting Marx on Bonapartism and Trotsky’s Transitional Programme at the end ‘The laws of history are more powerful than any bureaucratic apparatus.’ We can assure our readers that this author is neither a Marxist nor a Trotskyist but objectively a spokesperson for the US State Department.

The Praxis Centre in Moscow is a section of the Global Labour Institute and their programme is:

  • To study left (anti-totalitarian) social and political thought as well as the historical experience of workers’ and other liberation movements;
  • To develop and disseminate radical humanist, internationalist, democratic socialist and libertarian ideas;
  • To assist social movements fighting for human rights and freedoms, social justice, popular self-government and self-management.

That locates it as a libertarian, anti-Marxist, anti-communist NGO. Very helpfully the Global Labour Institute provides a link to the British Labour party and the first thing we find on clicking there is an article by one Richard Fletcher. The introduction explains “The following article was commissioned by the Sunday Times Magazine in 1972 and was withdrawn from publication at the last minute, as it was already in print, by its editor, Harold Evans, who, having read it, exclaimed: “But these are the people (the CIA we assume – GD) we support!”.


sir harold evans

It describes just how the CIA did their dirty work in the Labour party. We can only assume it was posted by a radical or revolutionary mole to prompt us to examine the source of funding of the Praxis Centre in Moscow and the Global Labour Institute. Only an idiot would think, ‘that was then, they don’t do any of that stuff today, what they did in 1972 is not what they do now’ particularly as we know the USA has the biggest embassy and the most CIA agents in the world right here in London. Here are some of the best bits:

“The cloak and dagger operations of America’s Central Intelligence Agency are only a small part of its total activities. Most of its 2000 million-dollar budget and 80,000 personnel (any figures for today? GD) are devoted to the systematic collection of information – minute personal details about tens of thousands of politicians and political organisations in every country in the world, including Britain. And this data, stored in the world’s largest filing system at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, is used not only to aid Washington’s policy-machine, but in active political intervention overseas – shaping the policies of political parties, making and unmaking their leaders, boosting one internal faction against another and often establishing rival breakaway parties when other tactics fail.

“…The principal union official in these secret commando operations had been Jay Lovestone, a remarkable operator who had switched from being the leader of the American Communist Party to working secretly for the US Government. And as the Allied armies advanced, Lovestone’s men followed the soldiers as political commissars, trying to make sure that the liberated workers were provided with trade union and political leaders acceptable to Washington – many of these leaders being the émigrés of the Socialist Commentary group. In France, Germany, Italy and Austria the commissars provided lavish financial and material support for moderate Socialists who would draw the sting from Left-wing political movements and the beneficiaries from this assistance survive in European politics to this day – though that is another story.

“…The importance of this dramatically reborn publication for British and European Labour parties was that it now began openly to advocate the infiltration of foreign socialist parties, echoing the arguments of James Burnham who, in his book The Coming Defeat of Communism, proposed that “the Western World, led by the United States should go over to the offensive by using the same sort of methods – open and covert – that the Kremlin has so massively employed”. Allan Flanders contributed an article to the revamped magazine on the British Labour Movement, and in 1954 Denis Healey, who had entered Parliament as a Labour MP in 1952, became the New Leader’s London correspondent.

…The Congress seemed to have unlimited funds which were said to come from Jay Lovestone’s union in America, and CCF, as it came to be known, was soon organising political seminars and student exchanges, and publishing literature on a world-wide basis… “ [2]

Now does this not exactly describe the activities of the Praxis Centre Moscow and Global Labour Institute? And now look at the neo-liberal future the Praxis Centre in Moscow wants for its Russian revolution:

“The objective task of the democratic revolution in Russia consists in liberating civil society from the authoritarian and bureaucratic yoke, in creating a political space where all social forces can express their interests. In the long term, this will permit the void on the left wing of the political milieu in Russia to be filled. The absence of an organized left movement (outside of tiny Trotskyist and anarchist groups) cannot continue for a long time, and the different Stalinists and phoney ‘social democrats’ of ‘Just Russia’ party parading as Leftists are not up to filling the bill. Today already, 17% of the protesters identify with the non-Communist Left. Their position is not yet represented politically. But sooner or later, the consolidation of the democratic left forces that are anti-totalitarian, internationalist and defend human rights and the rights of the workers must begin.”

Take the following passages from the Praxis article:

“The collapse of the party-state and the formation of nation-states on the ruins of the Soviet empire marked the advent of a bourgeois-democratic revolution. But this revolution only partly carried out its work of radically democratizing the political system and expropriating its ruling class, the bureaucracy”

So Yeltsin’s counter-coup of 1991 was a real bourgeois-democratic revolution that went dreadfully wrong, was it? We strongly suggest it was a real counter-revolution that went right! It wasn’t successful, according to this fantastic scenario, because it “only partly carried out its work of radically democratizing the political system.” Yeltsin, the timid revolutionary, did not hand over the entire economy to the USA, just the majority and so he failed in his radical democratic tasks! It really is beyond comprehension to attempt to portray the drunken Mafia gangster Yeltsin who wrecked the entire USSR economy by robbing its assets and giving them to his mates, who was responsible for destroying the schools and health care system such that male life expectance dropped by ten years and who did everything he could to please the USA and the EU as a leader of a “bourgeois-democratic revolution”. He then demonstrates his lack of any Marxist understanding by referring to the “ruling class, the bureaucracy”. A bureaucracy is not a ruling class; bureaucrats are administrators, nor owners of private property. Classes are defined by their relationship to the mode of production – if they own it they are capitalists, if they have nothing to sell but their labour power they are working class.

It really is beyond comprehension to attempt to portray the drunken Mafia gangster Yeltsin who wrecked the entire USSR economy by robbing its assets and giving them to his mates, who was responsible for destroying the schools and health care system such that male life expectance dropped by ten years and who did everything he could to please the USA and the EU as a leader of a “bourgeois-democratic revolution”


And the next extract:


“Having completed the process of privatization toward the end of the ‘90s, the ruling class wanted a stable system, an ‘order’ that would guarantee the continuance, the ‘conservation,’ of the new status quo. So it no longer needed the liberal elements of the political regime which enabled the elite groups to express their positions and compete during the period of the redistribution of property.”

So the much admired Yeltsin, the defenders of “the liberal elements of the political regime” (including the shelling of the democratically-elected parliament), was abandoned and the dreadful Putin was advanced:

“So Putin became the unique centre of real power, elections to ruling institutions were de facto eliminated, the party system was replaced by a group of puppets subservient to the Kremlin, the media were transformed into a propaganda machine, etc.”

As opposed to a group of puppets subservient to Washington, the real basis of our scribe’s complaints. After the Golden Age of Boris things went from bad to worse, the article explains, omitting to tell us that this was when the CIA lost influence in the Kremlin and coincidentally when it all went wrong for Buketov and his mates. But help is at hand, the author assures us:

“This (splits in the ruling class – GD) was one of the important causes of the success of the Russian revolutions in February 1917 and August 1991, as well as the ‘velvet’ revolutions in East Europe and the ‘colour’ revolutions in the ex-USSR.”

So it is not to the great October Revolution, led by the Bolsheviks that inspire our author, but the February Revolution. This was a bourgeois revolution but one which was dying as soon as it was born because bourgeois revolutions cannot survive in the epoch of Imperialism. Because of combined and uneven development of industry the bourgeoisie in Russia were weak and dependent on Imperialist finance capital but the working class were concentrated in huge modern factories and their concentration, organisation and the revolutionary leadership of the Bolsheviks enabled them to carry through the revolution from the dual power of the soviets and the Provisional government to the Socialist Revolution. Lenin’s April Theses recognised this reality also and hence a correct theoretical understanding of the historical laws of the global class struggle enabled the Bolsheviks to become the conscious expression of the unconscious historical process and make the greatest single revolutionary conquest that humanity had ever seen, and which remains unsurpassed to this very day.

Bur our pathetic author of the Praxis centre prefers the hopeless bourgeois February Revolution which would have fallen to Kerensky and then the Kornilov and the fascistic Black Hundreds had not Lenin and Trotsky at the head Bolsheviks leading the revolutionary proletariat intervened, changed the course of history and gave every true revolutionary socialist a model to aspire to in the class struggles ever since.

But our author cannot see why this great October Russian Revolution was so bitterly opposed by the entire capitalist class of the world, 14 invading armies on 23 fronts, remember? And ridiculously prefers Yeltsin’s “revolution” and all the “colour” revolutions since although these were greeted enthusiastically by every reactionary Imperialist and reformist politician and by not a few bogus leftists groups and individuals like the author of this article.  And let not the thought of socialist revolution or permanent revolution after that enter your heads, that stuff is just not on our sage commentator assures us:

“Objectively speaking, the nature of this revolution is determined in advance: today it can only be political and democratic. Russian society is not ready to go further; distinct social groups that are conscious of their own interests have not yet defined themselves within it, which is quite understandable given long decades of totalitarian atomization, a serious economic recession and then Bonapartism. Society is still not structured, so there is no reason to expect miracles. The revolution will not solve social-economic problems right away. But it can create the political and institutional conditions for their solution, more favourable to social struggles. Political freedom and democracy are not a panacea – but without them no serious improvement of the social order in the interest of the great majority of working people is possible.”

He has already referred approvingly to Ukraine’s Orange Revolution of 2004 and is now obliged to distance himself from the ultra-reactionaries who support his own reactionary position:

“This is why the membership on the organizing committee of the protest demonstrations of individuals like Thor (Kralin) — the apologist for the assassins of Markelov and Baburova who is linked with Nazi underground structures – is a serious mistake on the part of the leaders of the democratic movement.”

Like in the Maidan he needs to ‘de-Nazify’ his ‘democracy’ to appeal to the masses. But if we overthrow Putin things might get worse than they are now? Not a chance the author assures us:

“Putinism is a natural result of Elitism, and its collapse would take away with it the whole political construction that it was based on. The ‘super-presidential’ Constitution of 1993 was the basis of today’s Bonapartism. There is little doubt that radical democratization would bend back the balance of powers in favour of the parliament. And even if Russia doesn’t become a parliamentary republic, in one manner or another, the people will have more influence on the formation of the government, so they will be able to block the road of discredited figures like Kassianov and of open spokesmen for the interests of big business like Prokhorov. The objective task of the democratic revolution in Russia consists in liberating civil society from the authoritarian and bureaucratic yoke, in creating a political space where all social forces can express their interests.”

That passage means that the task of the revolution is to give a friendly welcome to US finance capital and if the country is carpet bombed and the land is devastated like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Eastern Ukraine it will be a small price to pay for that freedom to embrace liberal values (for the rich and powerful only, our author forgets to add). And coincidentally that is the message every CIA employee is obliged to give. But Putin might appeal to the working class to save him? No chance these contemptible “street sweepers” will get a look in our petty bourgeois reactionary assures us:

“The ruling group may well stage-manage demonstrations by street-sweepers under the slogan ’Fuck the Revolution!’– Such feeble ploys only indicate the febrile agitation that precedes death, the senile fear of the ineluctable end. ‘The laws of history are more powerful than any bureaucratic apparatus.’”

And mark the final flourish – a quote from Trotsky to bless this vile counterrevolutionary project. Just how stupid does this author think we all are? [3]


[1] The return of the RUSSIAN revolution, Nature and Perspectives of the Wave of Social Protest in Russia,

[2] British Labour Party, Who Were They Travelling With? – by Richard Fletcher (1972)

 [3] “The orientation of the masses is determined first by the objective conditions of decaying capitalism, and second, by the treacherous politics of the old workers’ organizations. Of these factors, the first, of course, is the decisive one: the laws of history are stronger than the bureaucratic apparatus. No matter how the methods of the social betrayers differ — from the “social” legislation of Blum to the judicial frame-ups of Stalin—they will never succeed in breaking the revolutionary will of the proletariat. As time goes on, their desperate efforts to hold back the wheel of history will demonstrate more clearly to the masses that the crisis of the proletarian leadership, having become the crisis in mankind’s culture, can be resolved only by the Fourth International.”…

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