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CPUSA Stance on the GDR and Other Former Socialist Countries

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Soviet cogitations: 882
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Oct 2004, 02:34
Post 23 Apr 2011, 21:09
The following passage is from the Foreword to a book in my possession written (or ghostwritten) by East German leader Erich Honecker called The German Democratic Republic: Pillar of Peace and Socialism. The Foreword, written by National Chairman of the CPUSA Henry Winston, embodies the stance that the CPUSA had towards the GDR at that time (1979), which seems to have been one of uncritical support (emphasis my own):

The German Democratic Republic (GDR), celebrating its 30th anniversary, is an inspiring achievement of a people building a developed socialist society.

I first visited the GDR in 1962. The rubble of war was still to be seen in Berlin and elsewhere. But already the rapid social advances, the fight to reconstruct the economy impressed me. I have visited the GDR several times since. Each time the sight of vast changes and improvement of the standard of living in all areas of life filled me with wonder and happiness. New industries, bright new cities, huge construction projects - houses and hospitals, schools and supermarkets, theaters, clubs, etc. - these have become the magnificent yet commonplace symbols of socialism.

I thought of this while recently touring the South Bronx and Brownsville communities in Ne York City. Here are miles of empty, rat-ridden tenements on streets cluttered with mountains of rubbish. What a cruel irony! Not a single bomb fell on our cities during World War II. Now, 34 years later, our big cities are in chronic crisis and decay, with vast areas that appear as though they have been under blistering bombings - horrifying yet commonplace symbols of U.S. state monopoly capitalism.

By any standard of measurement the achievements of the GDR are quite remarkable. The GDR is a small country, 102nd int eh world in territory, and 37th in terms of population. Yet in 30 years this new socialist state has become one of the world's ten top powers, with highly developed industry and modern farming. Prices are stable, output and national income grow swiftly and steadily. How was this "miracle" achieved? This book, which contains selected writings and speeches of Erich Honecker, the general secretary of the Socialist Unity Party and chairman of the Council of State, gives clear and brilliant answers.

German democrats, anti-fascists, Communists, Socialists, and progressive people generally, clasped hands with the great Red Army, and destroyed the barbarous tyranny of German fascism. Discarding the racist dreck of "the superman," they cleared away not only the debris of war, but also the rubbish of the old system of monopoly capitalism, the breeder of war, racism and poverty. In its place, a new system has arisen which makes peace and security, freedom and human dignity its primary aim. The firm foundation of these successes, Honecker underscores, is the ever deepening alliance and friendship between the peoples, governments and parties of the Soviet Union and the GDR, and in unison with the entire family of socialist nations.

In the past German imperialism, and the barbarous fascism it nurtured, brought the world colossal disasters. Today, when nuclear war menaces the entire planet, humanity is all the more fortunate that a peace-loving socialist state of workers and farmers flourishes on German soil. To do its utmost to guarantee that war will never again emerge from their German land is an irreversible principle of the GDR, embodied in its Constitution and guiding its relations with over 120 nations throughout the world. The GDR is making powerful contributions on ways to halt the arms race and for gradual disarmament in Europe and throughout the world. Peace and socialism, Honecker shows, are inseparable.

The sharp condemnation of the present Chinese rulers' invasion of Vietnam and the pledge of active solidarity of the GDR to the fraternal Vietnamese people is typical of their unflinching support to all peoples fighting for independence and freedom in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The GDR is a brilliant example of the triumph of Marxism-Leninism and the great force of proletarian internationalism.

The German Democratic Republic: Pillar of Peace and Socialism should have a special appeal to every U.S. reader for it confirms the scientific truths founded by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, and further developed by the genius of V. I. Lenin, that the great ideals of communism are applicable to all countries without exception.

Henry Winston
National Chairman, Communist Party, USA

The passage is interesting for its tone of adulation towards a regime that nowadays most socialists and communists would give at most only critical support, and which some would outright condemn. It seems that the CPUSA's stance on the former socialist countries has changed significantly since the time that passage was written. Perhaps this reflects the difference between the leadership of Gus Hall and that of Sam Webb. The CPUSA website used to have a section in its FAQ in which it addressed the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, saying that while democratic institutions were "underdeveloped", one could not discard 80 years of socialist development. The website then recommended books such as Human Rights in the Soviet Union by Albert Szymanski and The Siberians by Farley Mowat, which portray the Soviet Union in a positive light.

Now, however, the new party website does not even address the issue. The section on the USSR and its allies has been removed. Perhaps the party wishes to distance itself from its pro-Soviet past and emphasize its "Americanness", watering down its formerly staunch position on socialist regimes around the world.
"Unpolitisch sein hei├čt: politisch sein, ohne es zu merken." - Rosa Luxemburg
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