Thursday, August 9, 2018

Russian Capitalism/Imperialism, Putin And The Russian Working class.

Russian Workers On March against Raising of Pension Age. 
Sean O'Torain.

There are whole volumes to be written about the rise of Russian capitalism/imperialism out of the collapse of the Stalinist regime in the past decades. This Blog has continually pointed out the problems that face US capitalism/imperialism in dealing with Russian capitalism/imperialism. And these problems are not only because of the personal/financial problems of the Trump regime and Trump's fear of what Russian capitalism/imperialism in the form of the Putin regime can reveal about him. It is a much more serious problem.

US imperialism very actively intervened to bring down Stalinism and very actively intervened to make sure that it was replaced with Russian capitalism, that there was no move to replace it with democratic socialism. US imperialism intervened to make sure that the previously nationalized dominant sectors of the Russian economy rather than being taken into collective ownership and being collectively owned and managed and run by the Russian working class, were taken into ownership by the new Russian capitalist class. So US capitalism/imperialism played a major part in bringing about the new Russian capitalist class and putting it in power and this is whom Putin represents - the new Russian capitalist/imperialist class. This should not be forgotten when we read of US imperialism whining about Putin.

This Blog has pointed to the contortions US capitalism/imperialism and all wings of its mass media go to to try and hide this fact. One example is how they insist on calling the Russian capitalists - oligarchs. They are determined not to call them capitalists which is what they are. But if the US capitalist media called them capitalists then they would be seen to be similar to the crowd of capitalist  gangsters that run the US economy, That is, in the great class conflict of the world, they would be seen to be brother and sister capitalists.

But to move on to the main point of this article.

This Blog has continually said that the Russian working class would soon make its presence felt. That after the shock of the collapse of Stalinism it would recover and begin to act as a class. This and the rise of the Chinese working class and the rise of the US working class will be major factors on the world situation in the years ahead. But back to Russia. This Blog has recently had an article on a demonstration in Moscow for better housing. This was led mainly by women workers. This demonstration is not to be confused with the demonstrations that are regularly held by other wings of the Russian capitalist class who wish to have a greater share of the loot than the Putin wing. Now we have had a more important movement of a section of the Russian working class.

The Putin regime is moving to pass a law to raise the retirement age. At the moment men can retire and qualify for pensions at 60 years and women at 55 and in some industries women can retire and qualify for pensions at 50. Compare that to the USA!  This proposed new law would raise the retirement age to 65 for men and 63 for women. This is a major attack on the Russian working class. This at a time when the Russian capitalist class are living in the most extreme and crude luxury from the property they seized from the state when Stalinism collapsed. But this attack is not going unopposed.

89% of Russians in polls oppose the increase in retirement age. Naturally enough this opposition is greatest amongst older Russians which to now have been Putin's main base. The demonstrations have taken place in 150 cities throughout Russia. They have have not yet been enormous in size. But they have been angry. One woman demonstrator in the city of Tver, a city north of Moscow, referred to the Chinese example in dealing with corrupt bureaucrats. She stated: "In China, thieving officials are taken into the street and shot, and their property confiscated. We want that too". No holding back from this lady. She sees clearly what she wants done. No wonder Putin is trying to suggest that he has doubts about the new law. Some others in the demonstration in Tver were heard to shout: "Let Putin live on a pension". These demonstrations and this opposition has led to some splits in Putin's so-called United Russia Party. One newspaper in Russia has described Putin's party as the "praetorian guard of Stability". That is, of Russian capitalist/imperialist stability. Well it is showing the odd crack.

The Russian capitalist class which is represented by Putin and his Party is unique in history. It came to power and seized the economy as Stalinism collapsed. It took capitalism centuries to come to power and establish itself worldwide. In Russia it has been a different story. The new Russian capitalist/imperialist class, made up of KGB and former Stalinist state officials,  came to power in a matter of years. This is unique in history.

This new class is also different in other ways. It brings with it the repressive traditions of Stalinism. The crushing of the opposition in the 1920's and 1930's. It  brings with it the experience of the second world war when the Russian masses bore the brunt of the the war against and the defeat of Fascism. It brings with it the experience of the decades of the cold war.  US capitalism/imperialism helped to put the Russian capitalist class in power and now it is faced with this new class as a major rival. Be careful what you want, you might get it, is the saying that comes to mind. US capitalism/imperialism is whining about how Russian capitalism/imperialism intervenes in US elections, this from the class that spent the last century trying to bring down Stalinism and to intervene in every election on the planet and organize military intervention and assassination on a mass scale to get the governments it wanted in country after country. The problem that US capitalism/imperialism has is that it has been outdone by the Russian capitalist/imperialism  at its own game.

This Blog will seek to follow and publicize the struggles of the Russian working class that are just beginning. And to follow and publicize the struggles of the Chinese working class that are showing signs of emerging. And of the US working class that is beginning to stir. Human society is faced with a race against time. Unless capitalism is overthrown and replaced with a democratic socialist world where the international working class come to power and democratically run things, then life on earth as we know it will be destroyed. It will be destroyed either by climate change, nuclear war, pollution, or a combination of these.

It is heartening to see the first stirrings of the Russian working class. This Blog has been covering the new movements of the US working class in the teachers and educators movements in West Virginia, Kentucky, Arizona, Puerto Rico, and other states and the recent movement of the transit workers union in Washington DC where these workers refused to transport the Nazis and fascists to a demonstration. These are the first beginnings of the coming movement of the US working class. These movements are being led by new leaders from the rank and file of the US unions and workers and in some cases by leaders of some of the union locals, And they are overwhelmingly being led by women activists. Things are looking up.

This is no time to be pessimistic. Great struggles lie ahead. The international working class will seek to put its imprint on the developments in the world. The Russian working class will play its role in this. The Russian capitalists, what the US capitalist class call the Russian oligarchs, they call them this so as to try and make out they are not the same type of bunch of crooks and exploiters as the US capitalist class, will also be challenged.

As these struggles develop here in the US the trade union leadership which are wedded to US capitalism/imperialism will be challenged. Already signs of a new leadership is emerging. All those who are opposed to US capitalism/imperialism have to orient to these new movements and have to examine their ways of working and assist these new movements and assist a new fighting anti capitalist/imperialist leadership to emerge.

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