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Prague Spring 1968

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Aug 2012, 01:06
Pioneer
Post 01 Mar 2013, 00:31
Dagoth Ur wrote:
One last thing: much like Hungary in '56, what started out as a genuine worker's rebellion (much more so in Hungary) was soon co-opted by reactionaries within and turned into something threatening worker's power altogether.


What are the best sources on this process --- the genuine worker's rebellion, its cooptation, etc?

What contributed to this?

Obviously Western intelligence was involved. But what did Krushchev do or not do that changed the situation? What could have been done better? What were the alternatives?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Aug 2012, 01:06
Pioneer
Post 01 Mar 2013, 00:38
Quote:
All that only made matters worse and simply prolonged the agony of ČSSR for another 20 years and poisoned the relations between E. European countries.


Can you go into this a little bit further? What is the history here?

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Not to mention how destructive the impact of that aggression was on the world communist movement as a whole and particularly the Moscow-oriented parties.


Please discuss this further.

Don't get me wrong -- I understand the potential perniciousness of this, and why, for example, China opposed it. If one socialist country usurps for itself the right to adjudge whether another socialist country is truly following the socialist path, and can intervene on that basis, a dangerous precedent is set -- particularly if in the hands of revisionists. But, at the same time, class analysis -- and perhaps even more importantly, analysis of line to see whether it is genuinely proletarian in world-view, orientation, and direction -- seems pretty important here. I don't quite understand the process by which the USSR mobilized the Warsaw Pact in this case, but assuming -- and I don't -- that it was done in some kind of collective or democratic way, through some kind of due process, then wouldn't it be akin to a kind of "socialist U.N." making an intervention decision on the behalf of the working class?

I can't quite make out the principles that would govern this -- which is a signpost to me that there are contradictions here. But dialectics should be able to help us work through the knots and tangles.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 01 Mar 2013, 01:38
Quote:
Can you go into this a little bit further? What is the history here?

Well, i'd say the Czechoslovak state obviously lost a lot of legitimacy after Soviet tanks poured in. The period of "normalization" was basically a period of foreign that is to say Soviet occupation of ČSSR. The people obviously weren't very fond of that and ČSSR eventually collapsed in the late 80s.
Of course it resulted in a lot of bad blood between Czechoslovaks and Soviet people. It caused Albania to withdraw from the WarPact and Romania publicly denounced the invasion. They later set on a more "independent" course. It also resulted in further dissent in Poland.

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Please discuss this further.

Well i think you know more about that than i do. The invasion, so i heard, caused many people in the "pro-Moscow" parties of the West to hand in or tear their party books, as they couldn't go over the fact that a nominally socialist country was outright invaded by the Warsaw Pact for pursuing different policies.
It also caused further splits and was a general embarassement to the world communist movement.

Quote:
I don't quite understand the process by which the USSR mobilized the Warsaw Pact in this case, but assuming -- and I don't -- that it was done in some kind of collective or democratic way, through some kind of due process, then wouldn't it be akin to a kind of "socialist U.N." making an intervention decision on the behalf of the working class?

I don't know. IIRC Bulgaria ( otherwise the most pro-Soviet country in all of the E. Block ) was the only WarPac country that actually sent troops to ČSSR.
How can you invade a country in a democratic way?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Aug 2012, 01:06
Pioneer
Post 01 Mar 2013, 02:02
I don't know that you "invade" a country in a democratic way, but my point was that the decision to intervene could have been made in a collective, democratic way amongst leadership in the Warsaw Pact countries. And it is my understanding that by entering the Pact, it allowed intervention under certain circumstances. I don't have the codes in front of me, so I don't know the details. But assuming a country had entered into a legal pact that allowed interventions, then I don't even know if it qualifies as "invasion". To withdraw from such a pact, you'd have to have a full plebescite. And was that ever done in Czech?

I'm not sure what should have been done in Czech. If Mao had been in charge of the USSR, perhaps Soviet tanks could have functioned like the PLA and helped to set up three-in-one revolutionary committees in factories, with the intervening soldiers acting as a progressive force to lift up the actual voice of the working class and separate it from petty bourgeois voices.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Aug 2012, 01:06
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Post 01 Mar 2013, 02:07
Quote:
The invasion, so i heard, caused many people in the "pro-Moscow" parties of the West to hand in or tear their party books, as they couldn't go over the fact that a nominally socialist country was outright invaded by the Warsaw Pact for pursuing different policies.
It also caused further splits and was a general embarassement to the world communist movement.


I'm not sure how much this means. It could mean that those parties were already fairly disoriented. It could mean Moscow acted incorrectly. It could mean they insufficiently explained their actions. It could mean that those who ripped up their cards were already paper-thin communists anyway not willing to do a concrete, dialectical analysis, who relied on Western media and an absolutist, metaphysical kind of thinking that decides once a label of "invasion" is slapped on something, that the only response is condemnation, again, in an absolute kind of way.

"For pursuing different policies" is the key phrase. What kinds of policies? Should a Warsaw Pact country have just sat idly by while one of them decided to go completely pro-capitalist? Or -- to make this analysis more simple, just for the moment -- what if there had been a fascist rebellion in Czech? What if it had been able to muster the petty-bourgeois and even some of the more backwards segments of the workers? Are "independence" and "sovereignty" so important that they trump actual configuration of socialist forces in a country?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 09 May 2008, 14:59
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Post 01 Mar 2013, 03:15
Refrain from double (or triple) posting. If you have something to add, edit your previous post.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 01 Mar 2013, 07:09
Quote:
I don't know that you "invade" a country in a democratic way, but my point was that the decision to intervene could have been made in a collective, democratic way amongst leadership in the Warsaw Pact countries.

Maybe, but it most likely wasn't. After all everyone knew who was the boss.
No one asked Todor Zhivkov about what he ( or his party ) thought the best course of action would be, it's pretty much clear that Brezhnev and the CPSU were the one actually deciding about things.

Quote:
But assuming a country had entered into a legal pact that allowed interventions, then I don't even know if it qualifies as "invasion". To withdraw from such a pact, you'd have to have a full plebescite. And was that ever done in Czech?

If you stay in the pact you're sure you won't get invaded by us, but the option of armed intervention on behalf of the "healthy forces" in your country is still an option.

I don't know what the rules about withdrawing from the WP were, but most of the population in ČSSR stood behind Dubček and oppose the Soviet invasion or intervention or whatever we might call it.

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If Mao had been in charge of the USSR, perhaps Soviet tanks could have functioned like the PLA and helped to set up three-in-one revolutionary committees in factories, with the intervening soldiers acting as a progressive force to lift up the actual voice of the working class and separate it from petty bourgeois voices.

That never brought anything good. You can't "export socialism on tops of the bayonettes". No people like having their national sovereignity violated. Finland for example has one of the strongest workers movements, but the whole nation stood behind the government after the Soviet attack in 1939. Then there's Afghanistan and so on.
On the other hand Tibet may have been just one such case. Though a rare one.

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"For pursuing different policies" is the key phrase. What kinds of policies?

In our case the more "rightist" ones, i guess. In any case these were supported by the majority of the working class.

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Should a Warsaw Pact country have just sat idly by while one of them decided to go completely pro-capitalist?

If the working masses in a, until yesterday a nominally socialist country, can decide and be OK with the restoration of capitalism, then what kind of a socialist country was that in the first place?

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Or -- to make this analysis more simple, just for the moment -- what if there had been a fascist rebellion in Czech?

Then a civil conflict would have broken out, something that did, in a way, happen in Hungary in '56 but not in ČSSR in '68.

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Are "independence" and "sovereignty" so important that they trump actual configuration of socialist forces in a country?

And let's ask ourselves about the result of the invasion and the "normalization". What happened 20 years later? Nothing. The Party simply dissolved itself under immense pressure from ( not least of all ) the working class.
I think it's reasonable to say that the events of '68 had something to do with that.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 24 Jun 2011, 08:37
Party Bureaucrat
Post 02 Mar 2013, 05:52
I think the clear lesson to be learned from the events of the 20th century, is that nationalism is an impossibly powerful force, and that our conventional beliefs have failed to account for it.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 03 Feb 2013, 00:37
Pioneer
Post 02 Mar 2013, 12:07
runequester wrote:
I think the clear lesson to be learned from the events of the 20th century, is that nationalism is an impossibly powerful force, and that our conventional beliefs have failed to account for it.


And because of that, the USSR created a national paraphernalia to support the nationalist sentiments of its people.

By the way, I think the USSR was created to be a kind of UN, where each constituent republic had its own internal policies and the central government would only provide military, political and economic support to the republics. If I'm wrong, correct me please.

In Czechoslovakia and Hungary cases, there are more things: the USSR needed some "favourable" neighbours. If these two countries left Soviet Bloc, the USSR then lost a bit of influence in international relations. So look at 1990s: Polonia and Czech Republic joined NATO, a Western military alliance designed especially to combat USSR and Russia. If USSR allowed Hungary and Czechoslovakia to follow their own desired course rather than invade them, these countries could join NATO and the NATO forces will be dangerously closer to USSR.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 02 Mar 2013, 12:48
I think the question is being tackled in a weird way. Y'all act like you can only support "the Prague Spring" (like it was a homogenous movement) or the intervention. That's bullshit. There were both progressive and reactionary tendencies in the Prague Spring. As far as it was a movement to challenge the Stalinist bureaucracy with demands for democracy, it was progressive, and these tendencies - where the demand for democratic change came from the masses - clearly deserve support. The reactionaries, bureaucrats and wannabe bourgeois that co-opted the movement of course deserve the harshest condemnation. The Prague Spring nevertheless had the potential - if a capable leadership of the working class could have emerged - to turn into a workers' political revolution that could have toppled the bureaucracy and introduced workers' control over the socialist-oriented economy of the CSSR for the first time. This might have been the start of a Warsaw Pact-wide movement towards communism. Of course this wouldn't have ended well for the political leadership in these states, which is why they sent the Soviet Army to protect them. The intervention was primarily a move by the Warsaw Pact bureaucracies to protect themselves, just like the suppression of the Hungarian and East German revolts.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
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Post 04 Mar 2013, 00:46
You're absolutely right but it wasn't a new movement towards communism they feared but the rising tide of liberalism. The bureaucracy's decision to intervene, while almost entirely about maintaining things as they were, still served a progressive role at the time. By stopping the Prague Spring they kept the USSR together for fifteen more years.

Now if you were to ask if keeping the USSR alive for those years actually meant anything, I'd struggle to find any answer other than no, but just allowing liberalism to win is no different from letting nazis win.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 04 Mar 2013, 06:04
Dagoth wrote:
Now if you were to ask if keeping the USSR alive for those years actually meant anything, I'd struggle to find any answer other than no, but just allowing liberalism to win is no different from letting nazis win.


Liberalism winning over the Eastern Bloc would have made a pretty big difference in my life. Namely, I probably wouldn't have been born.

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Thinking a bit less egoistically, a victory of liberalism would have meant the absence of a golden age of Soviet-style socialism which so many people across Eastern Europe still miss, especially in the FSU. Despite shortcomings in the area of democracy, I don't really see 'the bureaucracy' as an argumentative term in every case, given that in countries like the USSR they used what they had to achieve some pretty great things. The USSR's administrative bureaucracy was smaller than that of contemporary Russia and, according to academics like Andrei Fursov, small even compared to that of many advanced Western countries.

Organizing socialism in a manner alternative to the so-called bureaucratic kind is one thing; blaming the bureaucracy for the stagnation and destruction of the country is something else. A bureaucracy serves the state, and as Ellman and Kontorovich have shown through their discussion of the economic bureaucracy, they were just as confused and devastated by the changes of the late 1980s as most ordinary people.

One last point: for argumentative sake, let's say the left forces in the Czechoslovak political spring were the strongest among the competing interests that sprung up/would have formed had the movement existed longer and solidified itself. Does this mean an automatic victory for genuine worker-controlled socialism? Not really. Aside from internal actors, factors and influences, there are also the external, in this case those of Western capital and the imperialist states that served it. Given that the 68 explosion was as much tied up with anti-socialist feelings as it was to anti-bureaucracy (after all, socialism could be said to have been defined as the bureaucratic socialism that existed) what would have stopped Western interests from using subtle information warfare from taking the revolution to the next level -abandonment of the one party state, introduction of limited market reforms followed by more, socio-cultural reforms where freedom of expression is defined by a liberal 'anything goes' mentality? Gorbachev tried to peacefully convert the USSR into a social democracy, and at each blundering step his reformers were pushed further and further by liberals until the country was bankrupt, humiliated, and ripe for a harsh strain of pure economic and social liberalism to take over. Admittedly, Gorbachev's approach was top down, and he was a social democrat. Nevertheless, would a 'pure', hardline worker control movement even be possible? Would it make any difference? Hardliners by their nature would probably seek to preserve gains made rather than risk everything for the theoretical but extremely unlikely rise of worker control in a revolutionary situation. More likely the strain of thought about perpetual revolution would suffer the same moral and ideological collapse that it has in the wake of Libya and Syria in our times -sure there's always the potential for worker revolt, but in practice workers are either caught in the middle or firmly on the side of the bureaucratic state while supporters of revolution at all costs end up siding with enemies far more serious than their bureaucratic opponents.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 04 Mar 2013, 13:18
Quote:
Given that the 68 explosion was as much tied up with anti-socialist feelings as it was to anti-bureaucracy (after all, socialism could be said to have been defined as the bureaucratic socialism that existed) what would have stopped Western interests from using subtle information warfare from taking the revolution to the next level -abandonment of the one party state, introduction of limited market reforms followed by more, socio-cultural reforms where freedom of expression is defined by a liberal 'anything goes' mentality

So? Would that have been so bad? Czechia and Slovakia are one of the few E. European countries that are better off today than they were 30 years ago.
If the ČSSR working class wasn't "ready" for socialism after 20 years, if after 20 years under Party rule the workers didn't want such socialism anymore, then it's a problem that cannot dealt with by sending tanks on the streets.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
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Post 04 Mar 2013, 14:17
What's so bad is the world was engaged in a Cold War, and that prior to 1968 Czechoslovakia was the USSR's main regional ally (it is after 1968 by the way that East Germany became the USSR's unofficial chief partner in Eastern Europe). Its loss would be catastrophic for world socialism.

This by the way is not the first time we are talking about the consequences of this or that historical outcome, and as I've done before, I'd like to point out here that juding events considering later events is not a correct or effective form of judging outcomes. In other words, even though socialism would be destroyed 20 years later anyway, that doesn't mean that it doesn't matter or wouldn't have mattered if it happened earlier. It means only that the future generation of leaders (in this case in the USSR) didn't take their oaths of office seriously.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 04 Mar 2013, 14:19
soviet78 wrote:
Despite shortcomings in the area of democracy, I don't really see 'the bureaucracy' as an argumentative term in every case, given that in countries like the USSR they used what they had to achieve some pretty great things. The USSR's administrative bureaucracy was smaller than that of contemporary Russia and, according to academics like Andrei Fursov, small even compared to that of many advanced Western countries.


That is certainly true. I would much rather live under the control of a (post-1956, Warsaw Pact) bureaucracy than any bourgeoisie (all the others are far too crazy for my taste). Hell if I wasn't a Trotskyist (ie if I wasn't going to be killed), probably even original Stalinism would suit me better than liberal capitalism.

In general, when I rant against the Soviet bureaucracy, I don't mean to say that their demise as it has played out historically has been a good thing. It was one of the most tragic setbacks in the history of mankind that I know of, comparable to the demise of the Roman Empire.

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Organizing socialism in a manner alternative to the so-called bureaucratic kind is one thing; blaming the bureaucracy for the stagnation and destruction of the country is something else. A bureaucracy serves the state, and as Ellman and Kontorovich have shown through their discussion of the economic bureaucracy, they were just as confused and devastated by the changes of the late 1980s as most ordinary people.


I'm not doubting the fact that many Soviet bureaucrats genuinely believed in their ML ideology. Germany, at least, is full of such examples of ex SED cadres who still believe every word of it, and then there's this really sad article Honecker wrote in like 1992, trying to come up with a Marxist understanding of what was happening, and ending up in utter confusion and inability to understand anything of what was happening.

However, this only applies to parts of the bureaucracy, right? I think we both agree that there were lots of "black sheep" among the bureaucracy - first and foremost, Gorbachev and his entire clique, as well as lots of egoistic, carrierist assholes in leading positions of the economy, who later went on to become successful capitalists. Or in the security apparatus, for example a huge bunch of Stasi agents that now work for the intelligence apparatus of imperialist Germany. Or even Putin for that matter.

The restoration of capitalism happened when these assholes were able to putsch their way to the top of the USSR. They succeeded because the bureaucracy, at that late stage of its degeneration, was a caste of helpless old men who hadn't really mixed with ordinary people for decades, preferring to award orders to each other and - as Honecker exemplifies in a tragic manner - steadfastly refusing to see all the problems that were appearing everywhere. Of course, at that stage, most of them still believed everything they did served the workers' state, but they were all terribly mistaken because there was close to no democratic influence on their policies at all. Starting with the rise of Stalin, Soviet society degenerated into a ridiculous caricature of democratic centralism, where the principles of accountability and the right of the collective to replace leaders at any time were all but annihilated, and the USSR never managed to recover from this. This situation allowed the rise of people like Gorbachev, who became excellent bureaucrats and terrible traitors to socialism. A bureaucracy brings forth such people until they restore capitalism and therefore all leaders have to be under the constant control of the masses at all times. This is not about "blaming the bureaucracy", i.e. petty fights about whether Brezhnev was a good person or not, it's about preventing a deadly cancer in socialist society that will inevitably lead to a terrible catastrophe.

And this is why a political revolution to restore workers' control had to be the top priority for any communist in the degenerated and deformed workers' states in Eastern Europe. This is the point of view that, I think, should be used to analyze the events. I think communists in the Prague Spring should have tried to use the movement to fight for workers' democracy. But the degeneration crushed even this possibility. That's of course better than an outright restoration of capitalism, but it's not good or progressive by any means. It's just a bit less reactionary, considering that this was a major step in securing the illegitimate power of the caste of helpless old men, which effectively just postponed the restoration for fifteen years.

Quote:
One last point: for argumentative sake, let's say the left forces in the Czechoslovak political spring were the strongest among the competing interests that sprung up/would have formed had the movement existed longer and solidified itself. Does this mean an automatic victory for genuine worker-controlled socialism? Not really. Aside from internal actors, factors and influences, there are also the external, in this case those of Western capital and the imperialist states that served it. Given that the 68 explosion was as much tied up with anti-socialist feelings as it was to anti-bureaucracy (after all, socialism could be said to have been defined as the bureaucratic socialism that existed) what would have stopped Western interests from using subtle information warfare from taking the revolution to the next level -abandonment of the one party state, introduction of limited market reforms followed by more, socio-cultural reforms where freedom of expression is defined by a liberal 'anything goes' mentality?


You don't think the workers can protect their minds themselves? You're arguing against workers' democracy because there will be no one to censor information? I think that's a bit harsh. Workers who are in control of their state will use their state to fight for their collective interests, and they will not be persuaded by anyone to give up their power as the ruling class of their society. Only for workers who are not in control of their state does the issue of information warfare even arise. People in the GDR, for example, quite openly refused the dictatorship of the bureaucracy because they preferred the dictatorship of capital. That was a result of information warfare for sure, but do you think they would have thrown away their state like that if they controlled it, if they were immersed in its leadership? The GDR was a deformed workers' state with a most acute information warfare problem, but if it had been a workers' democracy, the majority of workers would have regarded the struggle against imperialism as their own struggle (like communists), for which they would gladly give up bananas. But because it was a deformed workers' state, the workers regarded the struggle against imperialism as a struggle between two kinds of masters. One of the masters offered them bananas, so they chose him.

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Gorbachev tried to peacefully convert the USSR into a social democracy, and at each blundering step his reformers were pushed further and further by liberals until the country was bankrupt, humiliated, and ripe for a harsh strain of pure economic and social liberalism to take over.


Why did that work? Because there was no one to resist the liberals maybe? Just helpless old men everywhere.

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Admittedly, Gorbachev's approach was top down, and he was a social democrat. Nevertheless, would a 'pure', hardline worker control movement even be possible? Would it make any difference? Hardliners by their nature would probably seek to preserve gains made rather than risk everything for the theoretical but extremely unlikely rise of worker control in a revolutionary situation.


Do I really have to remind you of the Bolshevik slogan that incited the October Revolution?

All Power to the Soviets!

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More likely the strain of thought about perpetual revolution would suffer the same moral and ideological collapse that it has in the wake of Libya and Syria in our times -sure there's always the potential for worker revolt, but in practice workers are either caught in the middle or firmly on the side of the bureaucratic state while supporters of revolution at all costs end up siding with enemies far more serious than their bureaucratic opponents.


I don't think people in Libya and Syria were in control of their states, and I wouldn't have prevented any Libyan or Syrian person from trying to fight for such control. The working class learns from every struggle. If this time the CIA manages to send Islamists to divert the revolt, next time the working class won't be fooled that easily.

But really, this is the only way.

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If the ČSSR working class wasn't "ready" for socialism after 20 years, if after 20 years under Party rule the workers didn't want such socialism anymore, then it's a problem that cannot dealt with by sending tanks on the streets.


Yeah. Sending tanks is the wrong way.

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It means only that the future generation of leaders (in this case in the USSR) didn't take their oaths of office seriously.


...which was bound to happen at a certain stage of degeneration! In a workers' democracy, a leader who didn't take their responsibilities seriously would be replaced within a month!
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Aug 2012, 01:06
Pioneer
Post 15 Mar 2013, 14:16
Mabool wrote:
I think the question is being tackled in a weird way. Y'all act like you can only support "the Prague Spring" (like it was a homogenous movement) or the intervention. That's bullshit. There were both progressive and reactionary tendencies in the Prague Spring. As far as it was a movement to challenge the Stalinist bureaucracy with demands for democracy, it was progressive, and these tendencies - where the demand for democratic change came from the masses - clearly deserve support. The reactionaries, bureaucrats and wannabe bourgeois that co-opted the movement of course deserve the harshest condemnation. The Prague Spring nevertheless had the potential - if a capable leadership of the working class could have emerged - to turn into a workers' political revolution that could have toppled the bureaucracy and introduced workers' control over the socialist-oriented economy of the CSSR for the first time. This might have been the start of a Warsaw Pact-wide movement towards communism. Of course this wouldn't have ended well for the political leadership in these states, which is why they sent the Soviet Army to protect them. The intervention was primarily a move by the Warsaw Pact bureaucracies to protect themselves, just like the suppression of the Hungarian and East German revolts.


Some excellent points. Indeed it is not a monolithic either/or. Obviously, a "concrete analysis of the concrete conditions" is necessary.

I don't know if I agree with your point "as far as it was a movement to challenge the Stalinist bureaucracy with demands for democracy, it was progressive", because that sounds like a classless formulation. Democracy for whom? By whom? And a Stalinist bureaucracy? Or a Krushchevite/Brezhnevian bureaucracy?

Unfortunately, I don't know if any solid sociological studies with polls and so forth were ever done, so it's difficult to know everything about the proportions of forces. There did seem to be very strong elements of the petty-bourgeois and technocracy kicking its feet against the working class, though. That doesn't seem to me to be very progressive at all, even if that particular strata wanted greater freedom of expression.

But your point about whether -- to rephrase it -- the revolution could have been continued under the dictatorship of the proletariat -- or against a dominant revisionist stratum -- is a very good one that needs to be debated out.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Aug 2012, 01:06
Pioneer
Post 15 Mar 2013, 15:35
Quote:
The USSR's administrative bureaucracy was smaller than that of contemporary Russia and, according to academics like Andrei Fursov, small even compared to that of many advanced Western countries.


This point needs to be underlined again and again and even expanded upon. This is not a common meme, but it should be.

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Yeah. Sending tanks is the wrong way.


Why? On what principles? That sounds too absolutist to me. Argue your case.

The whole line of
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If the ČSSR working class wasn't "ready" for socialism after 20 years, if after 20 years under Party rule the workers didn't want such socialism anymore, then it's a problem that cannot dealt with by sending tanks on the streets.
just sounds like tailism to me. As if socialism were a "just this generation only thing", and something up for the whimsical vote even of the working class. This is about undoing six thousand years of class slavery. Not wanting to overcome that is wanting to continue slavery. I don't consider that viable "consent". At best, it's self-sabotage, and under heavy doses of illusions. We Communists do not tail the illusions of the working people. We act as tribunes of the people, exposing the class forces behind each and every illusion. There is a legitimate intergenerational issue of legacy in any Communist country : millions of people laid down their lives -- and others worked their asses off round the clock -- so that future generations could enjoy the endowment of socialism on its way to communism, and finally communism. It is dishonoring that legacy and trust, and spitting upon their labor to give it up on a whim and allow imperialist forces to take over. Desire is not the decisive issue ; history is. A class society, or a society working to undo classes?

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In a workers' democracy, a leader who didn't take their responsibilities seriously would be replaced within a month!


Filled by whom? With what experience and track record? I'm not saying recall isn't an important right -- Marx certainly thought so -- but running an industrial nation is a complex matter that requires certain skill-sets as well as commitment to politics. This is one of the contradictions facing the transition-period of socialism -- how to equalize skills and knowledge relative to the evolving industrial system -- and the contradiction is not eliminated simply by wishing it away or abstractly evoking recall as a right. Rather, there must be substantial policy to back the right of recall and give it actual and not formal power.

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I don't think people in Libya and Syria were in control of their states, and I wouldn't have prevented any Libyan or Syrian person from trying to fight for such control. The working class learns from every struggle. If this time the CIA manages to send Islamists to divert the revolt, next time the working class won't be fooled that easily.


I don't know ; there were IMF and World Bank reports complaining about too much democracy in Libya interfering with business. And you wouldn't have prevented any Libyan or Syrian person -- regardless of class or class-interests -- from trying to fight for such control? Why not just invite the imperialists in? And as far as "the working class won't be fooled that easily next time", do you mean spontaneously, or as organized by a Party? Because sorry to burst your bubble, but the working class has been spontaneously fooled time and again. You'll note the working class is not in command almost everywhere.


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One last point: for argumentative sake, let's say the left forces in the Czechoslovak political spring were the strongest among the competing interests that sprung up/would have formed had the movement existed longer and solidified itself. Does this mean an automatic victory for genuine worker-controlled socialism? Not really. Aside from internal actors, factors and influences, there are also the external, in this case those of Western capital and the imperialist states that served it.


Of course it doesn't mean an "automatic" victory for genuine worker-controlled socialism, and of course external and internal factors must be balanced in. Imperialism will always fan the internal fires. The key question is whether there was any authentic leadership to step up to the plate and either direct or reorganize the party in a proletarian direction. We don't look for "automatic". We look towards the role of consciousness and leadership, in the context of a concrete analysis of concrete conditions.

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Given that the 68 explosion was as much tied up with anti-socialist feelings as it was to anti-bureaucracy (after all, socialism could be said to have been defined as the bureaucratic socialism that existed) what would have stopped Western interests from using subtle information warfare from taking the revolution to the next level -abandonment of the one party state, introduction of limited market reforms followed by more, socio-cultural reforms where freedom of expression is defined by a liberal 'anything goes' mentality?


In light of Gorbachev, this is a very good question, and I tend towards your view that Czech '68 was a dress rehearsal for USSR '91. But it's not a simple matter either.

First of all, if socialism was "defined as the bureaucratic socialism that existed", we already have a big problem. One can't say that was the only alternative ; the Cultural Revolution in China was proving alternatives, alternatives which had been explored since at least the Great Leap Forward. It's that very identification that needs to be challenged -- and not from a Trotskyist standpoint.

Suppose Gorbachev had been an authentic Communist (I know, that's supposing a lot!) and had directed glasnost from that standpoint. Everything would have been done differently. It could have been introduced in a controlled and pro-socialist way, not by assuming that every anti-communist rant somehow set the standard for self-criticism. If Gorbachev's model had been Maoist China, for example, and not Sweden, he could have led glasnost in a very, very different direction.

We do need to avoid the either-or's. I'm not saying that necessity allowed any great width of maneuvering room between the two (bourgeois or "bureaucratic"). But every wedge could have been shoved into the cracks --- again, yes, with the knowledge that there would be imperialist wedges inserted as well which would have to be controlled and neutralized, not just through coercion, but manufacture-of-consent style media marginalization, combined with straight-out organizing at the working-class level.

What would have happened if Brezhnev had sent in the "25,000"? Say of the most advanced, class-conscious workers. Paid their airfare, train tickets, bus rides, whatever was necessary. Tanks on standby to defend them if need be. Have them make contact with their Czech peers : not the petty bourgeois, not the technocracy, not imperialist agents and gullibles, but their working-class peers. Assess the situation. Tilt it in a vanguard type way.

Yes, necessity was narrow. But that is no excuse for lack of imagination on our part. If push comes to shove, we do need to defend even a deformed socialism against imperialist takeover. But if third options have even possibility, we must be imaginative enough to grasp them.
Soviet cogitations: 88
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 03 Feb 2013, 00:37
Pioneer
Post 15 Mar 2013, 23:43
One thing that nobody cited here was that the "Communist Revolutions" of Warsaw Pact States weren't pushed by the people, but imposed by USSR. So, the people of these countries don't saw Socialism as a good regime that brings freedom to people, the people saw Socialism as a regime imposed upon them that brings them slavery. Because of that, it was relatively easy to make any small complaint turned into a huge demonstration against the communist government.

In Albania, China, Cuba and Vietnam there were much more stability, because was the people that made the revolution. So, the people in these countries really believed that Socialism will bring them freedom and quality of life, and their support prevents that a small protest turns into a all-country uprising.
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Soviet cogitations: 121
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Aug 2012, 01:06
Pioneer
Post 04 Apr 2013, 11:57
Tropican wrote:
One thing that nobody cited here was that the "Communist Revolutions" of Warsaw Pact States weren't pushed by the people, but imposed by USSR. So, the people of these countries don't saw Socialism as a good regime that brings freedom to people, the people saw Socialism as a regime imposed upon them that brings them slavery. Because of that, it was relatively easy to make any small complaint turned into a huge demonstration against the communist government.

In Albania, China, Cuba and Vietnam there were much more stability, because was the people that made the revolution. So, the people in these countries really believed that Socialism will bring them freedom and quality of life, and their support prevents that a small protest turns into a all-country uprising.


No, that's not really accurate, sorry. This trope of "imposition" doesn't really fit the facts. The Red Army liberated these countries, and it was obvious that property that had been in the hands of fascists or capitalist collaborators was not going to be returned, but nationalized instead. Socialism grew out of the united fronts against fascism in these countries.
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