by Bruno Fournier
Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the official dissolution of the Soviet Union. A few weeks ago, Russian parliamentary elections delivered approximately twenty percent of the vote to the Russian Communist Party. This is not some exercise in numerology. There is nothing magical about the number 20. And yet, somehow, it all seems fitting. (Remember, it was also exactly 22 years ago today when Ceausescu was overthrown in Romania.)
A few days ago, the New York Times issued a report offering a good rundown on the current position of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. In summary, the communists have created perhaps the most viable pole of opposition against the entrenched mafia-style rule of Putin, Medvedev, and their United Russia party. The question remains open as to what today’s Russian communists actually stand for, in concrete practical terms. It does seem important, though, at least on a symbolic level, that Gennady Zyuganov, the current leader of the Party, is a physicist and mathematician who opposed Gorbachev back in the 1980s. There’s something very “Soviet” about the man. For the more elderly among his supporters, this may seem comforting, but for Zyuganov’s younger supporters, this may be cause for some trepidation. Lots of people know what the Soviet Union’s successes were, but everyone knows about the Soviet Union’s failures.
Perhaps that’s the reason why retired Major General Yevgeny Kopyshev, leader of the Union of Soviet Officers, was booed off the stage when he spoke from his podium of a return to the Soviet days. Would the reception have been different had he spoken of a “dialectical return” to the Soviet Union? Would people have even known what that meant? Surely some would have; maybe many would have. “The leadership have stepped away from Marxism,” said one man of 84 years named Iosif Abramson, who nonetheless remained cautiously optimistic for the future of the Left among Russia’s younger generations. The world is very different now from how it was in 1991, and certainly from how it was back in 1917. Iosif Abramson knows that quite well, but surely this should be basic common sense for everybody else, too.
As of exactly 20 years ago today, the capitalist mode of production has had nothing standing in its way save for its own internal contradictions. Look how far we’ve come!