‘And at Sarai Komar, the Centre for the development of Egyptian cotton in Tadjikistan, I saw a delegation of Afghans who came from across the Pianj to ask the local Soviet authorities to help them organise a collective farm.
‘But you are not Soviet citizens’, protested the Tadjik official. ‘Your country is Afghanistan. We can’t come there and organize collective farms’.
‘Why not?’ asked the naive Afghans. ‘You have a strong army.’
The thing appeared quite simple to the applicants – come with your army and organize collective farms.
‘It’s a long and very complicated story – why not,’ dodged the official. ‘But why not get together your belongings and come to us? We’ll organize you in a kolkhoz all right. We’ll settle you on good land, and give you credits, Remember we can use here another million and a half willing workers, first go back and think it over’.
Disappointed, the Afghans left.....’
(Joshua Kunitz: ‘Dawn over Samarkand’, Calcutta, 1943.)
What even the local Soviet Tadjik official understood in the time of Stalin that socialism cannot be exported by the Soviet army today the leaders of the Soviet Union do not understand. Kudos to revisionist dialectics.
According to the press reports 50,000 Soviet troops have entered into Afghanistan, captured all key towns and frontier posts and have liquidated the government headed by Hafizullah Amin and have replaced it by a new pro-Soviet government headed by Babrak Karmal.
The USSR has justified its military action on the grounds that they are giving support to socialist forces in Afghanistan. And in India the two major pro-Soviet parties, the CPI, and the CPI(M) have endorsed the Soviet action.
Many militant workers today still regard the Soviet Union, which was the first land of socialism, the land of Lenin and Stalin, as a leading socialist country.
The foreign policy of a socialist country is conducted on the basis of the principle of proletarian internationalism and a fundamental element of this principle is the recognition of the right of nations to self-determination. J.V. Stalin pointed out that those who do not recognize this principle cannot not only be considered Marxist they cannot even be considered democrats. Marxism-Leninism subordinates the national question to the class question:
‘Proletarian Internationalism demands (i) subordination of the interests of the proletarian struggle in one country to the interests of the struggle on a world scale; (ii) that the nation which achieves victory over the bourgeoisie shall display the capacity and readiness to make the greatest national sacrifice in order to overthrow international reaction.’
(Communist International: ‘Theses on the National and Colonial Questions’, 28th July, 1920).
The Soviet Union in the time of Lenin and Stalin respected the right of nations to self-determination and only in particular instances where the higher class interests of the international proletariat were at stake were Soviet troops to be found outside the territory of the USSR. In this period the Red Army was regarded by the world working class as not only the army of the Russian Socialist Republic but also the Red Army of the Communist International.
When the Red Army entered into Polish territory in 1920 it did so after destroying the reactionary attack of the Polish bourgeoisie and landlords upon the Russian Socialist Republic. Lenin described Poland as the last bulwark of reaction against the Bolshevik revolution. The Red Army crossed the borders of Poland as a counter-offensive against the counter-revolutionary white forces. At that moment the world proletarian revolutionary upsurge was at its peak: The offensive of the Red Army was also designed to link up the Soviet proletariat with that of Poland and Germany. The alliance of Soviet Russia and a Soviet Germany would have decisively breached the world imperialist front. At that time the interests of the proletariat in any one nation was subordinate to this key question. This counter-offensive against Poland was launched keeping in view the revolutionary upsurge of the Polish proletariat to the rear of the reactionary Polish troops. This heroic action of the Red Army was a great sacrifice by the Soviet workers and peasants to assist the world revolutionary process.
One of the first acts of the Russian Revolution was the recognition of the secession of Finland from Russia. When the Soviet Union was involved in preventative war with Finland in 1939 that country had become a base for international reaction directed against the USSR at a time of impending world war. The USSR proposed the exchange of strategic territory belonging to Finland required to protect the city of Leningrad in return for double the territory to be ceded by the Soviet Union. The President of Finland recognised that the Soviet proposal did not affect the integrity of Finland. Soviet troops marched into Finland in November 1939 after Finnish military provocations had taken place backed by world reaction. In the peace terms signed in Moscow in March 1940 the USSR ceded all territory beyond the requirements of the security of Leningrad. The Soviet-Finnish war and the subsequent peace treaty proved to the world the strength of the Soviet Union and its determination to uphold the principle of self-determination of nations and peaceful coexistence. The crucial importance of this was clear to the world proletariat in that it sabotaged the attempt of Anglo-American imperialism to turn the tide of Nazi imperialism against the Soviet Union and so compelled Anglo-American capital to form an alliance with the Soviet Union against Germany. During the course of the Anti-Fascist War the Soviet Army in alliance with the working class and democratic forces of these countries liberated many of the Eastern European states, North Korea and Northern China. Clearly the entry of Soviet troops into those countries was necessitated by the requirements of smashing the states linked with and subjected to German and Japanese imperialism and fascism. The territories liberated during the course of the antifascist war were handed over to the local democratic authorities upon the withdrawal of Soviet troops. In these instances, too, the USSR in the time of Stalin acted in such a fashion that the fundamental national right to self-determination was not violated.
Each of these instances reveals that, in the time of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the Soviet Union, the Soviet Army entered into foreign territory when an offensive had been launched against the Soviet Union by the ruling classes of particular states, at a time when such states had became the focal base for the world capitalist offensive directed against the Soviet Union and when thus the reactionary ruling classes of a particular state had become the enemy of not just one national section of the world proletariat but an enemy of the world proletariat as a whole.
Even if it is supposed that the Soviet Union today is a socialist state it is not possible to justify the military intervention by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan; for the Hafizullah Amin government could not be considered as a bulwark of world imperialism which is being utilized as a base for launching war upon the ‘socialist’ Soviet Union. Indeed the USSR itself recognised the government of Hafizullah Amin as a democratic government and only after overthrowing it declared it to be an agency of imperialism. Such is the eclectic logic of Soviet revisionism designed to serve the pragmatist interests of Soviet neo-imperialism.
It is the bounden duty of the international proletariat and the socialist camp to render assistance to the revolutionary democratic forces in the colonial, semi-colonial and dependent countries. But this fraternal assistance should never be rendered in such a manner so as to violate the rights of self-determination of the nation thus assisted. During the course of the great national-revolutionary war of the Spanish people 1936-39 the Spanish government and people called for international fraternal assistance from the world working class and the democratic forces in their struggle against the fascist armed forces headed by Franco and backed by Hitler and Mussolini. In response to this call the Communist International formed the International Brigades and the Soviet Union rendered military assistance to the Spanish Republic. All volunteers were placed under the command of the General Staff of the Spanish democratic government. This reveals in a clear manner the principled approach of the world proletarian forces in not violating the sovereignty of the Spanish democratic state.
Has the Soviet Army intervened in Afghanistan in such a manner as to respect the right of the nationalities of Afghanistan to self-determination and the sovereign rights of the Afghan state? In reality the Soviet military forces overthrew the government of Hafizullah Amin which it had only recently regarded as representing the democratic forces of Afghanistan and instated the puppet Babrak Karmal government to state power. In acting in this fashion the Soviet Union of Brezhnev has violated the national sovereignty of Afghanistan. Subsequently, the Soviet Union has sought to legitimize its military occupation by arguing that it was rendering assistance to the socialist forces represented by the Babrak Karmal government. In its entire action in Afghanistan the government of the Soviet Union has not acted in the manner of the Communist International and the Soviet Union of the time of Stalin as exemplified in the case of the Spanish democratic revolution which would have required the ‘International communist movement’ and the Soviet Union to call for international assistance to the national-revolutionary forces in Afghanistan: assistance which would have been placed at the disposal of the government of Afghanistan and so respecting the sovereign right of the Afghanistan state. A cardinal principle of a socialist state is the recognition of the right of nations to self-determination. By consistently violating this principle the Soviet Union since the death of Stalin has forfeited the right to call itself the land of socialism.
The most clear expression of the violation of the Leninist-Stalinist understanding of the right of nations to self-determination by the Soviet Union subsequent to the death of Stalin was the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact states in 1968. At that time, too, the modern revisionists justified this aggressive act as being necessitated by the requirement of preserving ‘socialism’ in Czechoslovakia which was endangered by the pro-imperialist machinations of the Dubcek clique. Of the forces of modern Indian revisionism the CPI(M) stood in the van of those who defended the alleged right of the ‘socialist’ Soviet Union to militarily intervene in Czechoslovakia, This was, of course, in opposition to the principles and practices of Leninism-Stalinism. It need only be recalled that in 1948 when the Yugoslavian revisionists headed by the Tito-Rankovich clique revealed themselves as social-fascist agencies of US imperialism and when this clique tortured and killed 80,000 Communists and workers in the concentration camp of Goli Otok, the Cominform and the Soviet Union headed by J.V. Stalin did not react by sending the troops of the Soviet Union to restore people’s democracy in Yugoslavia but rendered political assistance to the Yugoslav Communists with the end objective of exposing to the working class and working people of Yugoslavia and the world proletariat the social-fascist policies of the government of Yugoslavia. In essence modern revisionism seeks to build and defend ‘socialism’ on the point of ‘Soviet’ bayonets and not on the basis of raising the consciousness of the working class to its historical destiny.
The workers of the world have to face the painful reality that socialism exists no longer in the Soviet Union after the temporary defeat of the Marxist-Leninist forces headed by J.V. Stalin and the replacement of the dictatorship of the proletariat by the dictatorship of the new bureaucrat state capitalists. Today the neo-imperialist Soviet Union speculates on the socialist past and pursues its imperialist design of bringing the national democratic revolutions in the colonial, semi-colonial and dependent countries into the sphere of Soviet neo-imperialism through its ‘socialist aid’. The tragic events in Afghanistan can only be seen in this perspective. The exposure and defeat of Soviet revisionism and neo-imperialism and its allies is of prime importance to the world working class and democrat forces. The working class and democratic forces in Afghanistan as elsewhere in the colonial type countries during the course of the revolutionary democratic process will have to fight on two fronts against both the two major imperialist blocs headed by the Soviet Union and US imperialism.
Long Live the Struggle of Afghan People for National Self-Determination!
Long Live the Struggles of the World Working Class and Working People Against Imperialism and Social Imperialism!
Long Live Proletarian Internationalism!
Revolutionary Workers’ Co-ordination Committee
9th January, 1980.
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