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Contemporary issues related to human development , regional and global.

LEGACY OF OCTOBER REVOLUTION

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KERALA: SOLAR COMMISSON REPORT

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LEGACY OF OCTOBER REVOLUTION

REACTION STRIKES EUROPE

 

 This eight part article was written in December 1989, about two years before the dismantling and final collapse of USSR. It was written at a time when the entire world was speculating on the prospects of Gorbachev’s perestroika and glasnost and pundits like Fukuyama were predicting “end of history”. Within a short span two decades history had asserted itself and world is celebrating, today, the centenary of the great Bolshevik revolution.  It was the lead article of my book, Perestroika Glasnost and Socialism, by Partridge India (Sept 2013) and is republished here as a wordpress blog, to mark the historic occasion.     

 

I

“A spectre is haunting Europe; the spectre of Communism. All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police spies.” — These were the opening words of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, drawn up by a secret conclave of communists of a few European nationalities assembled in London in November 1847. The Manifesto concluded with the appeal: “The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win:  WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES UNITE!”
A series of uprisings by proletariat swept Europe in 1848 and 1849 and within twenty-five years of the first printing of the Manifesto there was the Paris Commune of 1871 when World’s first government of the dictatorship of the proletariat was established; but it lasted only seventy two days. Communists were hunted down; worker demonstrators were shot down as in Chicago on the 1st of May 1886 or arrested, imprisoned and tortured. Battles were fought at the plane of economic theories political ideas; capitalists the world over ridiculed Marxism as sheer nonsense or at the best as an utopia.
The numerous struggles and battles fought by the proletariat, throughout the world, were not in vain. Seventy years after the Manifesto, the first proletarian state was born in 1917, toward the end of first world war, imposed over the mankind by the bourgeoisie classes, the capitalists all over the world tried all means, both foul and fair, in order to sabotage the first proletarian state including direct intervention. Soviet Union not only survived all such intrigues but also proved the dictatorship of the proletariat to be a viable alternative political system superior even to the bourgeoisie system.
Faced with the challenge thrown up by working class the bourgeois experimented with and encouraged fascist dictatorships as in Germany, Italy and Spain, throwing to winds their democratic pretensions. The ultimate result was a ruinous Second World War in which several millions perished. Socialism became an even more attractive proposition to more and more nations whose people liberated themselves from the oppressive capitalist system using Marxism as a creative tool. The socialist camp with about one third of humanity and the non-aligned group of third world countries, with more than half of world population, who had liberated themselves from the colonial yokes and with strong anti-imperialist sentiments were a direct challenge to the global ambitions of imperialist countries. Development of the socialist economies during the post war years, in spite of the cold war conditions imposed by imperialists, was commendab1e. Share of the socialist block in world industrial production which was hardly 20 per cent in 1950 increased to 40 percent by 1983. And, the share of developed capitalist economies came down drastically during the same period.
All the above are historical facts which even the capitalist ideologues may not dispute. Capitalist classes of the world were mortally afraid of the spread of Marxian ideology. In their jargon, of course, the increasing popularity of socialistic ideas was the result of Soviet or Chinese, expansionism. Containing communism was the official policy of all capitalist states, especially those of the developed capitalist countries. Totality of the war machine including the latest attempted star-war program of the Reagan Government, the troops stationed on far off foreign soils, the huge espionage and propaganda network, subversion of Governments of third world countries, imposition of dictators over the unwilling peoples, economic and development policies dictated through institutions like World Bank and the IMF and the numerous other programs and policies were all pursued by the developed capitalist Governments, under the leadership of the United States of America with the single-mindedness of containing communism. Peter Drucker known as the grand old guru of corporate capitalism in the Western World, while discussing the prospects of corporate business for the nineties in a recent article in the Economist had commented with satisfaction:  “The lodestar by which the free world has navigated since the late 1940s, the containment of Russia and of communism is becoming obsolescent, because of that policy’s very success.”(l).
Capitalist classes the world over; their theoreticians and propagandists see the recent developments in the socialist world as a great source of comfort and consolation. They feel that their efforts at containing of communism have at last succeeded after one and a half century and the specter that haunted Europe has been exorcised! They take legitimate pride in their success. Reaction has struck Europe and the working class movement all over the world is, at least for the moment, on the defensive. And this fact needs to be accepted with openness and candor.

II

Capitalists are at their best in marketing, not only of the goods they produce but also of ideas and ideologies. They know how best to utilize opportunities and reap maximum profits. There never were better times to market capitalist ideology. They sold tons and tons of the broken-down Berlin Wall in attractive packages at several hundred dollars a kilo. Every gram of that material, they count, will keep on reminding the people, generations after generations, of the brutal atrocities perpetrated by an inhuman and inefficient system called communism!

Edward Mortimer commentator of Financial Times London, speculating on the impact of the changes in the socialist countries on international relations of the nineties remarked:  “Second half of this decade has seen a truly astonishing drama– the end of Communism as—we know–and perhaps even the end of “communism” as a name as any one will think worth using for a utopia that we know not yet…. Perhaps Russia would have progressed faster, economically and educationally if in 1917, had it adopted some other system; that we can never know for sure. Certainly few other systems could have exacted such a terrible price for what they did achieve. But this barbaric system was one that could be imposed on a backward, predominantly rural country, in conditions of international conflicts and then civil war. Even after 1945 the Soviet peoples were still helpless against it. But between 1945 and 1985 it did somehow produce a highly educated elite, comprising (it now seems) at least some millions of people, who took a minimum of civil and international peace for granted, and judged their own country by the highest international standards, not only of military technology but of civilization in the broader sense. They judged it, and found it wanting.” (2)


Perhaps, it was superficial to quote a Western Commentator on the “failure of Communism”. The views of a prominent member of the highly educated elite, referred to by Mortimer, Dr. Abalkin, Dy. Prime Minister of USSR and considered the economics guru of Gorbachev,  could have served the purpose even better. He had been to Brussels recently for negotiating cooperation agreements with the European Community. In a press conference there he stated that ‘there were 40 million Soviet citizens (15 per cent of the population) who find themselves in due economic straits after having worked for all their lives’. According to Western press reports “he all but claimed developing country status for the Soviet Union!” (3). The Soviet Union which considerably outstrips the USA in the production of oil, gas, steel, fertilizers, machine tools, tractors, harvesters, wheat, milk, butter and other diary products, fish, textiles, shoes and several other commodities; a country which has many more doctors, hospital beds, scientists and scientific institutions, teachers and educational institutions than the USA, a country which is a world leader in space and military technology, and considered a superpower till yesterday to match the combined military might of all developed capitalist countries taken together, claims today only the status of a developing country!
What has gone wrong with the Dy. Prime Minister of the Soviet Union who is supposed to be a communist and a member of the highly educated elite class as maybe certified by Western Commentators? Apart from denigrating the achievements of the Soviet people over the past seven decades, he was expounding his wisdom on the recent history of mankind as well, in that press conference at Brussels. While discussing on colonialism he told the reporters: “Soviet Union has long argued that the poverty of developing countries are the direct result of colonialism. The idea that the prosperity of colonial powers rested on their exploitation of the colonies is too simplistic a view of history. Rather it was due to West’s organizational skills, especially as applied to production, a trained work force, respect for work and property and basically democratic values’ (3)

 

And, Dr. Abalkin ridiculed the argument that economic development of the third world countries is a major responsibility of the former colonial powers: Even a hard core imperialist would not dare, today, to air such views in public! Even the commentator of Financial Times who admired him and the elite class of the Soviet Union had lamented on the existing economic relationship between the developed and developing countries: “In a grotesque inversion of all rational economics, the poorer two thirds of the World has steadily reduced its living standards in order to transfer resources to the richer one third. It is perhaps surprising that we in the North while shedding crocodile tears over this phenomenon from time to time have bothered less and less about the third World’. (2) That, precisely, is the situation prevailing in the so called integrated interdependent world of today, as seen even by a bourgeoisie propagandist. But Dr. Abalkin and his ilk have a totally different interpretation of history. These are the very people who are now trying to rewrite the history of Soviet Union on the pretext that what exists today is a grossly distorted version, fabricated by Stalinists!
A good many of such statements made by responsible Soviet leaders like Dr. Abalkin contradicts not only Marxian understanding of history but even the contemporary perceptions of capitalist world. The demands to do away with central planning in Soviet economy, to dismantle the large complex organizations that were built over a period of time, and to leave everything to the market mechanism and competition are typical examples. Theories on price formation under market mechanism have practically nothing to do with the ground realities and this is a widely accepted position today even among capitalist economists. Formation of large conglomerates, business groups and multinational corporations in the capitalist world, is not even a recent phenomenon and they operate under shared monopoly conditions. Even the much trumpeted experiments of Thatcher with large scale privatization in the name of promoting competition and vigor in the British economy have already lost their charm.
In the meanwhile global corporations of the capitalist world seems to be moving more and more away from market competition to what they call as strategic alliance: ‘ Kenichi Ohame, the author of ‘The mind of the strategist’, in his Harvard Business Review article on ‘The global Logic of Strategic Alliance” argues that, in a changeable world of rapidly globalizing markets and industries, a world of converging consumer tastes, rapidly spreading technology, escalating fixed costs and growing protectionism, alliance is an essential tool for serving customers. According to him, globalization mandates alliance and makes them absolutely essential to strategy. According to Jet Magsaysay, the executive editor of World Executive’s Digest, as the business environment, both locally and internationally, becomes increasingly competitive; companies will have more reason and will find more ways to form strategic alliances. As that happens, strategic alliances will not only be a logical alternative but a key to survival in business. Management experts predict that in the not-too-distant future, alliances will be a necessity not only for individual companies but also for orderly development of entire industries and those companies in mature, slow-growth industries will increasingly look to strategic alliances for survival.” (4).
The Corporate business strategies likely to be followed by the West in the nineties are obvious from the above observations by the leading consultants of global corporations. The rapid development of cheap information processing and transmission capabilities thanks to the microelectronics revolution is being extensively made use of by corporate capitalism in order to simplify organizational methods and at the same time to strengthen their muscle power. To quote again Peter Drucker from his paper on corporate perspectives for the nineties: ‘Business will undergo more, and more radical, restructuring in the 1990s than at any time since the modern corporate organization first evolved in the 1920s. Only five years ago it was treated as sensational news when I pointed out that the information-based organization needs far fewer levels of management than the traditional command and control model. By now a great many, may be most, large American companies have cut management levels by one-third or more. But the restructuring of corporations, middle-sized ones as well as large ones, and, eventually, even smaller ones; has barely begun.” (1)
In fact at one point of time the Harvard Management experts were apprehensive that the Soviet Union’s enormous planning and organizational experience, if coupled with the new information technology, will be a formidable threat for the capitalist World. But present day Soviet economists, who are in power, are more keen to dismember and dismantle the large public sector organizations, in order to overcome the difficulties with the unwieldy command structures, rather than seeking technological solutions which are feasible and being implemented by corporate capitalism.
How could the elite classes and the intelligentsia of the Soviet Union who pose themselves as radicals and progressives and commended upon by many Western political analysts as the only hope for that country be so backward in their economic theories, political thinking and views on history? One need not even question the relevance of glasnost and perestroika in the present situation but, the lack of seriousness with which reform proposals are put up and debated today raises genuine doubts about the quality of the present leadership of Soviet party and government.
While reporting on the three day conference in November at Moscow, where Dr.Abalkin presented his long term perspectives for the restructuring of Soviet economy, Quentin Peel another Financial Times analyst quoted the words of a Soviet factory worker: “We began to go wrong in the Soviet Union with Khrushchev, when we started to introduce elements of capitalism into communism. The two systems cannot mix. We must go back to the 1950s.” (5) Peel’s assessment was that these words reflected the gut reaction of many in the audience. More than 700 economists, 500 factory and farm managers and selected members of the public, according to the analyst more than 1400 of the best brains in the Soviet Union, participated in this conference. The corner stone of the proposed reforms was fundamental changes in property relations. The program was rightly commented on by the analyst as a program for social democracy, and according to him the tenor of the debate was “powerful pressure from the conservatives (i.e. anti-reformists)’ Dr.Ed. Hewitt a leading US specialist on Soviet economy
reportedly commented after the first day of the debate: “Western economists know how to manage a market economy. They do not know how to create it from the scratch. That is what they are trying to do here”.
The claim that Western economists know how to manage a market economy may sound a little hollow, judging from the way they grapple with the never ending crisis in world capitalism. But Dr.Hewitt was outright honest when he stated that they will not be in a position to help Dr.Abalkin, and that his plans for building, in the Soviet Union, a market economy from the scratch were beyond their comprehension. The sophisticated reaction of this US expert is not much different in essence from the blunt words of the Soviet factory worker, “that capitalism and communism just cannot mix. But Dr.Abalkin who is described by Peel “as the first true member of the intelligentsia in the Government” as well as his colleagues have different views and they are pressurizing the Soviet people to accept their reform proposals.

 

There are any numbers of reports indicating that reforms aimed at fundamental changes in property relationships are being resented by the vast majority of Soviet people, not necessarily through the mass media but on the ground, whenever such reforms are implemented piecemeal on an experimental basis. Reform enthusiasts blame the workers for this, calling them lazy indifferent people, insensitive to the needs of society. The Supreme Soviet in its sitting in mid-December has, in the meanwhile, decided that the reforms on the lines of Dr.Abalkin’s proposals will be implemented only after three years, starting from 1993, as the second stage of an overall reform package placed before it by the Prime Minister Ryzhkov.

III

How is that Dr.Abalkin, the true representative of the intelligentsia in Soviet Government is in a position to push on with such reform plans, judged as basically unsound even by Western experts, in spite of the widespread reservations and resentment expressed by the Soviet people? The assessment of the Soviet factory worker that, ‘we began to go wrong in the Soviet Union with Khrushchev” provides once again a clue to the genesis and character of the present reform movement. Edward Mortimen the western commentator describes the rise in the role of the intelligentsia or the elite who is heading the perestroika movement in Soviet Union: “The elite gradually found its voice as the repression deployed to keep it in the line softened, from the extremes of barbarism under Stalin to the still disgusting but limited unpleasantness of Brezhnev. The foremost member and shining symbol of it was of course, Andrei Sakharov. A carrier like his would have been unthinkable in Stalin’s time”. (2)
Equating the rule of the dictatorship of the proletariat with barbarism is not a new interpretation from Western Commentators and it is as old as the October Revolution itself; there might have been excesses under Stalin not only against intellectuals but also against other human beings, typical of revolutionary situations. But to say that the intelligentsia could not find its voice due to Stalinist repression, no doubt is a gross exaggeration. Does it not imply that Stalin and the working class party built up a Soviet State to the status of a super power, single handed and without the help of the intelligentsia?
The truth is that the finest among the intelligentsia and the vast majority of the scientists, engineers, economists and planners, inspired by the visions of a new society cooperated with Stalin and the working class party to build up the first proletarian State under the most hostile circumstances of conspiracies and sabotages organized by world capitalism. It is true that a small minority of egoistic intellectuals represented by Trotsky and others were not permitted to dominate the party. Their views and alternatives regarding building up a new socialist economy were debated for several years within the party and ultimately rejected by the working class. These are all part of recorded history.
But the situation began to change since Khrushchev’s reforms when the CPSU started transforming itself from a working class party to a party of the whole peop1e. Material incentives were given undue importance and radical changes were introduced in the management of economy. True, the problems of managing and coordinating a rapidly diversifying Soviet economy was getting more and more complex. Discussing on the management problems of the Soviet economy Brezhnev had stated in his report to the 26th Congress of the CPSU in 1981: “Different variants and different schemes, as you know have been tried out. A great deal of diversified experience has been accumulated. The experience makes it clear that the quest, it seems, is towards greater independence of the amalgamations and enterprises and greater powers and responsibility of economic managers”.
Granting greater and greater independence and autonomy for the enterprises without the matching information feed back to central planning authorities was sure recipe for undermining the planning process. Enterprises and their managers were becoming more and more autonomous but less and less accountable. Economic managers were growing more and more powerful and independent, many of them becoming corrupt, some even millionaires and capable of buying up trade union and party functionaries. Checks and balances provided by working class democracy through the primary party bodies were getting weakened. Brezhnev lamented in his report to 26th Congress: “Primary Party organizations are vested with the right to control the work of managements. It is important that they exercise this right to a larger extent and in the best way possible. Whether it is a matter of personnel, the fulfillment of economic plans, or the improvement of people’s working and living conditions, the Party organizations should adopt a principled stand and not take their cue from the management when the latter is wrong. In short, they should firmly implement the Party line.”
A careful reading of the reports to successive congresses of CPSU by its general Secretaries will reveal this increasing weakness of the party organization at various levels to assert itself on questions of economic management. This has in turn led to the rule of bureaucrats and managers. A situation where economic enterprises were managed more like capitalist enterprises, offering material incentives to the workers with very little participation or control by the organized working class and the trade unions was emerging gradually but steadily.

 

Gorbachev in his report to the 27th Congress had stated: “In our country, the trade unions are the largest mass organization. On the whole, they do a lot to satisfy the requirements of factory and office workers and collective farmers, to promote emulation, tighten discipline and heighten labor productivity. Still trade union committees are in many cases lacking in militancy and resolve when it comes to defending the working people’s legitimate interests, ensuing labor protection and safety, and constructing and running health-building, sports and cultural facilities. Understandably such passivity suits those managers for whom production sometimes obscures the people. The trade unions, however, should always give priority to social policy objectives, to promoting the working people’s interests. Properly speaking, this is the basic purpose of their activity. The all union Central Council of Trade Unions and other trade union bodies enjoy extensive rights and control considerable funds, both the state’s and their own. It is up to them, therefore, to make extensive and confident use of them, instead of waiting for somebody else to fulfill the tasks they are charged with”
In order to strengthen the party and to enable it to play the due leadership role more effectively several steps were being taken. The decisions taken in this direction by the 25th Congress as well as the outcome of their implementation were reported by Brezhnev in his report to the 26th Congress: “In accordance with the instructions of the 25th Congress, many specialists working in the economy were assigned to party work. At present three out of every four secretaries of the Central Committees of the Communist Parties of the Union republics and of territorial and regional committees and two out of every three secretaries of city and district Party Committees have a technical, economic or agricultural education. This is gratifying. But it must be taken into account that a segment of the specialists who have come into the Party apparatus from industry do not have sufficient political experience and in some cases, bring economic management methods into Party organs.”
Brezhnev further criticized the lack of political training and experience of the comrades “appointed to party executive” work and emphasized the “need for their seasoning in the thick of working masses”. It is not possible to ascertain how and to what extent politicalisation and ideological training of the experts and managers assigned to party leading bodies as is visualized by Brezhnev in 1981 could be accomplished. In Gorbachev’s report to the next Congress in 1986 there is no specific mention in this regard. However he had more or less indicated the persistence of this shortcoming in the functioning of the party, as well as the Government.
Whether the specialists in the economy who were assigned to party work at the leading bodies of the party have adequate political and ideological background or not is no doubt a very important question. But the fact to be noted here is that the specialists and managers were being given a free hand in running economic enterprises in the name of autonomy and efficiency and at the same time they were being increasingly assigned key positions in the party, It is one thing to respect intellectuals and their knowledge and to provide them with the best of living conditions but, it is another thing to permit their hegemony over the party.

 

It was erroneous to believe that class contradictions had ceased to exist in the Soviet society and that the specialists and managers will not have their own class interests. The specialists, the managers and the academics or the intelligentsia as they are referred to generally in the Soviet Union have their common views and perceptions about life which are conditioned by objective realities, both internal and external to Soviet Society. They have their group interests and group aspirations which were sure to assert themselves on the society and the party as sectarian class interests, unless contained politically and ideologically. This basic Marxian understanding was overlooked when Khrushchev’s reforms gradually changed the CPSU from a working class party to a party of the whole Soviet people’.
Members of professional classes or the intelligentsia have been joining the CPSU in larger numbers; party members having post graduate or doctoral degrees increased by 14 times during the period l950 to 1983. Brezhnev in his report to the 26th Congress had noted with some satisfaction: “the influx of Soviet intelligentsia to the party continued during the reporting period”. The quota system for membership was abolished recently and reports for the period 1986- 88 indicate that more and more members of the intelligentsia have been joining the party ever since the current reforms started. However more than the absolute or relative strength of the intelligentsia in terms of numbers it is the preeminent position they have come to enjoy, not only in economic life but also in the political life of Soviet Union which has made the qualitative difference since Khrushchev’s reforms.

IV

It is necessary to understand the perceptions, the aspirations and the social background of the intelligentsia as a class in order to appraise their role in present day Soviet society. They are the elite, the better educated and the chief custodians of knowledge and expertise generated over the years by Soviet Society. Under socialism, all assets, tangible or intangible, material or intellectual, created through the process of social production stand transferred to the society. But the perception of intelligentsia is that the wealth of expertise they possess were partly inherited and partly acquired by them in their individual, capacity. They consider these as their personal property. Under capitalist relations of production owner of any property physical or intellectual (the latter is getting more and more importance today in the capitalist world) are entitled for rent or royalty, which in essence means profits or a claim for a larger share in social production. There are no upper limits for incomes from property under capitalism but wage incomes are restricted through the mechanism of labor market and a minimum of unemployment. Unlike under socialism, where growth and development are based on social consensus, income differentials in favor of property owners are the motive force for economic growth under capitalism; higher the differential higher is the propensity for growth.

 

Intelligentsia of Soviet Union who consider themselves as the owners of substantial, intellectual property look at their counterparts in capitalist world—the corporate managers of industry and commerce or the top bureaucrats in Government and draw up comparisons that are quite unpleasant for themselves. Their counterparts in corporate capitalism possess vast expensive villas, frequent the most expensive of clubs, pick up choicest luxuries from exclusive shops, enjoy holidays on the best of beaches with the very best of company, have all the freedom, the freedom of the modern jet-set, and above all the freedom for lording over their fellow citizens with the right to ‘hire and fire’. After enjoying all the wonderful hospitalities offered by his counterparts in a capitalist country during a brief visit there, a Soviet manager as he returns home, looks at his own country as extremely backward, uncivilized and even barbarian and considers himself a “prisoner of working class democracy!’
Russian intelligentsia at the time of the October Revolution was a mixed lot. A small minority had allied itself with the working class, in overthrowing the autocracy of Czar. After the revolution, a large number immigrated to capitalist countries, declaring Bolshevism as a barbarian political ideology. Possibly a sizable minority stayed with the Bolsheviks, inspired by patriotism and idealism. But even they had a tough time in reconciling with the rigors of proletarian dictatorship. But it must be said to the credit of the Bolshevik party that the finest elements among the intelligentsia could be won over to the side of the revolution and they cooperated with the working class not only in building up the first socialist state, practically out of nowhere but also in the upbringing of a new generation of brain workers from the ranks of the working class. The Second World War generated intense patriotic sentiments, which continued unabated during the early periods of the cold war as well.
The absence of fear for tomorrow and the extensive of social security provided by the socialist system had created the best of conditions for the blooming of a creative intelligentsia in the Soviet Union. In fact Soviet society produced many more outstanding scientists, engineers, economists, artists and athletes than any of the capitalist countries including the USA. But international capitalism could offer them much higher prices than Soviet socialism. A few decades were long enough for the Soviet intelligentsia to distance itself from the idealism and patriotism of the proletarian revolution. Its perceptions and aspirations underwent a sea change; it began to see world capitalism as its natural ally and full of opportunities.

 

In the name of democratization and de-Stalinization the concepts of proletarian internationalism and proletarian dictatorship were abandoned. Independent political initiative of the working class which was the main-stay of the power structure in the Soviet Union got weakened by the over-emphasis on material incentives and autonomy for the economic managers. We have seen that even the management of the CPSU was being taken over by specialists and academics at various levels. Top leadership of the party being surrounded by the elite classes was getting more and more isolated from the working class and the people but, continued to exercise its power and authority drawing heavily on the capital of past glory and prestige of a revolutionary party.

Economic managers who were positioned as party functionaries paid obeisance to the top leadership and the political power structure started assuming a feudal character. No more was it necessary for them to win over the hearts and minds of the working people and democracy was the worst casualty. Brezhnev’s period was characterized as ‘the period of stagnation’ and by the time of 27th Congress the working class and the entire people were convinced that changes were inevitable.

V

Glasnost and Perestroika in their essence had meant correcting the earlier deviations by ensuring the broadest possible participation of the working people in the management of society. Documents of the 27th Congress as well as other official documents of the party regarding reforms had visualized the re-invigoration of the class and mass organizations as well as the primary party organizations on Leninist principles as the practical program for the deepening of democracy and for helping Perestroika. It was visualized that the initiative for the reforms will be taken by the party and implemented with the help of trade unions and other public organizations. But this did not happen.

 

The experience of two years of reform movement is summarized by Onikov, a CPSU central committee official, in an interview (6): “Democratization has brought all strata of Soviet society into motion, creating an atmosphere of activity, innovation and a drive for eliminating shortcomings. In the absence of democratic traditions and relevant experience these unquestionably sound manifestations of democracy have been spontaneous and unorganized. Far from all party organizations and Communists have been prepared to head and encourage this social breakthrough. When unsound tendencies appear, party members do not always notice them in time and cannot counter and neutralize them. This was alarmingly in evidence during events we are not accustomed to: meetings, strikes, riots, or demonstrations in different regions of the country. Rank and file Communists could not decide how to react to them. They remained passive as usual, waiting for instructions from above.”
Party apparatus was naturally handicapped to lead the reforms because the intelligentsia who were on the vanguard of the reform movement were also dominating the party leadership at various levels. They were already alienated from the masses as well as rank and file party workers and naturally they could not inspire the working class and their organizations. But the members of the intelligentsia who were holding leading positions within the party and the Soviet economy could easily rally themselves together and enlist the support of the non-party intellectuals and the anti-party elements in Soviet society, who were seeing the reforms as an opportunity to work towards their sectarian objectives. An informal pressure group led by the intelligentsia calling themselves ‘radicals’, having powerful influence over the party and the Government came into existence. The initiative for the reforms fell into the hands of this pressure group and every single reform measures suggested and discussed today in the Soviet Union are centered on the sectarian interests of the intelligentsia, who considers itself as the natural leaders of the Soviet society and the owners of its intellectual property.
The first and foremost step of this group was to hijack the media and use it extensively for ideological subversion about which Gorbachev himself had given a clear warning in his report to the 27th Congress: “ The insidiousness and unscrupulousness of bourgeois propagandists must be countered with a high standard of professionalism on the part of our ideological workers, by the morality and culture of socialist society, by the openness of information, and by the incisive and creative character of our propaganda. We must be on the offensive in exposing ideological subversion and in bringing home truthful information about the actual achievements of socialism about the socialist way of life.”

In their antisocialist and anti-Soviet propaganda, making full use the extensive Soviet mass media, the radicals have even outdone their counterparts in the imperialist world and the indications are that the Soviet people are fed up with this today. But, what is strange is that the perpetrators of this slanderous propaganda continue to hold key positions in Soviet party and Soviet Government in spite of the resentment expressed by the vast majority of Soviet people.
The radicals pose themselves as the champions of truth and democracy. But they have no qualms about spreading falsehood and even scandals. According to them, Stalin was the worst of all dictators, and in his time inner party democracy was unheard of. Brezhnev’s period is characterized only as ‘the period of stagnation’. The fact that democracy was at its worst during Brezhnev’s time and at its best during Stalin’s time when working class democracy was the guiding principle is often pushed under the carpet by the radicals but, is evident from an unintentional testimony by Onikov (6):  “During the long period of stagnation, especially in its last years, its democratic value was reduced to naught, and turned into a hollow formality, the like of which was not even seen in Stalin’s time. By way of illustration let us take such a strong party organization as that of Moscow; up to 1940 there was not a single case at dozens of its conferences of a nominee for full or candidate membership of the regional or city party committee or the being elected unanimously. It was a common practice then, especially in the 1920s, that some of the candidates proposed were not elected. The first case when all candidates for full and candidate membership of the regional committee and the auditing commission were elected unanimously were recorded in 1974. Not a single candidate on the voting list was voted down in 1976 the same happened at the city party conference.”
It is necessary to remember that during Brezhnev’s time especially in his later years the specialists, the managers and the academics were holding the key positions in the party. Democracy and freedom professed by the radicals and practiced in the reform movement, today, in the Soviet Union are meant only for the intelligentsia, “the owners of intellectual property” and not for the working masses. This is even more evident from the proposals for economic reform drafted by Dr. Abalkin, referred to earlier. The corner stone of the reforms is changes in the property relations; or the freedom for different forms of property; public, cooperative and private to compete among themselves. When asked about the participation of  working people in the management of the economy Dr. Abalkin had reacted: (3): “the toiling masses must be full masters of political and social life. The government’s task was to restore socialist content, give to all toilers a say in running the country. This was not a near term prospect but the final goal of perestroika”.
All talks of deepening of democracy on Leninist lines and such sentiments expressed in the revised party program of 1986 sound hollow in the context of the reform proposals put up by the Dy. Prime Minister of Soviet Union. The proposals visualize the creation of a labor market in socialist Soviet Union, denationalization of property and intensive development of foreign economic ties. It is clear that when hundreds of thousands of hectares of farm land are leased out to individuals or private enterprises, or public enterprises are handed over to Joint stock companies, or when new enterprises are set up With imperialist collaboration, it will be the members of the intelligentsia who will be managing them in the capacity of corporate managers or owning them, in the capacity of shareholders. In other words the Soviet Intelligentsia which consider themselves as the owners of intellectual property sees the current reforms as an opportunity for further tightening their strangle hold on the economy as a class, with the help as necessary from their foreign counterparts, the corporate managers of world capitalism. Their sectarian interests even compel them to shed all pretensions of patriotism, to depict the mighty Soviet Union as a ‘developing country’ and to play a subservient role to foreign monopoly capital and imperialism.
The blue print put up by the intelligentsia for the dismantling of the socialist system in Soviet Union has aggravated the nationality question within the Soviet Union. Though the Soviet intelligentsia across the nationalities is united, today, against the broad interests of the Soviet people, they are divided on ethnic lines. Disruption of ethnic harmony had started surfacing ever since the intelligentsia got an upper hand in the economic and political life of Soviet Union. Disruptive tendencies were somewhat dormant even in 1986 when Gorbachev assessed the situation in his report to the 27th Congress: “National oppression and inequality of all, types and forms have been done away with once and for all. The indissoluble friendship among nations and respect for national cultures and for the dignity of all peoples has been established, and has taken firm root in the minds of tens of millions of people. The Soviet people are a qualitatively new social and international community, cemented by the same economic interests, ideology and political goals”.
He warned about certain tendencies that have come up in recent times and emphasized the need to follow Lenin’s teachings: “Our Party’s tradition, traceable to Lenin of being particularly circumspect and tactful in all that concerns the nationalities policy and the interests of every nation or nationality, national feelings, calls at the same time for resolute struggle against national narrow mindedness and arrogance, nationalism and chauvinism, no matter what their guise may be “.
But the Perestroika as it unpackaged itself, intensely aggravated the nationality problem. Fears of the peoples of small nationalities and ethnic minorities about the re-emergence of ‘Russian imperial domination was quite genuine, in the context of reform proposals of the Abalkin type, and they rallied themselves behind the intelligentsia of the corresponding nationalities. The Soviet intelligentsia who had coined the concept of an ‘integrated interdependent world’ in order to morally justify their collaboration with the corporate managers of world capitalism find itself divided, today, on ethnic lines. When the capitalists of various nationalities of Western Europe, after prolonged squabbles and infighting among themselves, are succeeding in the creation of an integrated European Market the reform program of the Soviet intelligentsia is rapidly fragmenting the economy of Soviet Union.
The sectarian interests of the intelligentsia dominate every detail of the ideological package shaped up by the reformists or the radicals who are dishonest to the core. Their way of functioning is totally undemocratic as alleged by several of their own followers, their words and actions do not go together and every one of their theoretical formulations are aimed at politically browbeating the Soviet working class. They talk endlessly on Science and Technology and eulogize on the Scientific-Technological Revolution as if it is a post-Marxian phenomenon (meaning only we, the experts know it; you proletarians do not!). They endlessly sermonize on the fragile nature of environmental and ecological balance of the biosphere (you fools’ you are sure to break it and destroy it!) on the integrated interdependent world (ignorant proletarians, do not meddle with it!), and on the invincibility of an impersonal, omnipotent and mystical market mechanism (only we experts can manage it and not your politics!).

 

When they talk about freedom and human rights they are only asserting their own right to get a better price in the international market for the intellectual property or special skills they have come to possess while working for the Soviet society. They try to convince the people of Soviet Union that everything has gone wrong during past seven decades because of the politics of the working class and the early years of proletarian dictatorship. They try to depict Stalin as a barbarian and to resurrect Trotsky, whose perspectives for developing Soviet society were in tune with the sectarian aspirations of the intelligentsia of that period. Through every single instances of their words and deeds the ‘radicals’ betray their sectarian ambitions for establishing their hegemony over the working class of the Soviet Union.

VI

Developments in the East European Socialist countries are, as in the past years, more or less in step with those in the Soviet Union, the first Socialist State. These small socialist states, the products of the Second World War, had set up their own economic and political systems after the Soviet Model. However, the possibility of ideology of an international working class movement being used as a cover for ‘Great Russian domination’ over the small socialist states was a widespread apprehension among the peoples of the newly formed socialist countries of Europe. Such fears were, in fact, continuously reinforced by constant imperialist propaganda. The earlier Hungarian and Polish resistance against socialist governments as well as the Yugoslavian defiance of Stalin was rooted on the fear of such “Russian domination”. The newly liberated countries and the national liberation movements of the non-European continents, especially those led by the working class as in China, Korea, Vietnam and Cuba had no such apprehensions and they had seen Soviet Union as a natural ally in their struggle against imperialism.

 

The economic and military alliance forged by the imperialist countries to contain communism and the so-called Russian expansionism was checkmated by a similar alliance of the European socialist countries led by the Soviet Union. The nonaligned movement of the third world countries was emerging itself as a third force championing the cause of a new world order with strong anti-imperialist sentiments and enjoying the sympathy and support of the socialist alliance. This was the international scenario that unfolded itself towards the final years of Stalin.
The reforms of Khrushchev had initiated a series of changes not only within the Soviet Union, as we have seen earlier, but also in international politics. Revisionist reform of Khrushchev could not get immediate acceptance within Soviet Union because of its long traditions of working class democracy: It suffered serious setbacks and ended up with the removal of Khrushchev himself from power. But the East European Socialist countries were a far more fertile soil for Khrushchev type reforms. Every one of these reforms, with the possible exemption of Albania, started rapidly traveling down the road of the new economic reforms. By 1967, the intelligentsia of Czechoslovakia had already hijacked the working class party and Government in that country and was about to establish their political hegemony over the people. Working class in that country which was supported by the new leadership of Soviet Union could reassert its leadership role once again in that country, at least temporarily.

Despite the change in leadership and removal of Khrushchev, the concept of transforming CPSIJ into a party of the whole people was getting concretized rapidly and as we have already seen, the hold of the intelligentsia over the economic enterprises, the administration and the party was getting more and more strengthened at the expense of working class democracy. The Soviet reform experiments were copied in other socialist countries as well, in varying degrees with the exception of, possibly, Cuba, Vietnam and Korea who were facing direct threats from imperialism. Even the international role of the Soviet Union was being perceived by the party leadership, dominated by the intelligentsia, more as that of a super power of paternal in character, which was distinctly different from the Stalinist traditions of equality and fraternity among nationalities. Thus the reform movement which started in the first socialist country spread to other countries as well, and ultimately led to the disruption of the international working class movement. Under the growing influence of the intelligentsia in party organization and leadership, communist parties all over the world with few exceptions started losing their international perspectives: Euro-communism was a conspicuous example of this trend.
The revolt against the intelligentsia in China in the early sixties, the reassertion of working class democracy which took the form of the “cultural revolution”, the withdrawal of Soviet technical assistance, the charges of social imperialism against Soviet Union and the eventual degeneration of the cultural revolution in to collaboration with the imperialists were all tremors that were triggered by the reform movement in Soviet Union, the first socialist state. The intelligentsia in the party succeeded once again to recapture its leading role in China and to strengthen itself as a class by making use of the economic reforms of the eighties and by exploiting the strong nationalist feelings of Chinese people. But its recent attempts to gain total hegemony over the Chinese people with the help of imperialism were halted at least temporarily.

 

In Poland as a result of the reformist policies the Communist Party got itself completely isolated from the people and almost the entire working class crossed over to the Solidarity. In Hungary the working class party transformed itself into a bourgeois party, changed not only its name but also that of the republic. One of the first measures adopted by the new Government in Hungary was to ban political activity on the shop floor of the enterprises, and now a new working class party is being organized by the Hungarian Communists. In Czechoslovakia, in Bulgaria and in East Germany with the intelligentsia occupying key positions in politics as well as administration, hijacking of the Communist Party leadership was an extremely simple affair. After capturing the mass media a few massive demonstrations were organized and the party leaderships in these countries changed hands without a whimper.
The working class who lost their organizations overnight was forced to be a mere onlooker when rapid changes were taking place in these countries. There was of course stiff resistance in Rumania but the dissenters had the support of not only the imperialist camp but also of the Soviet Union as well as other socialist neighbors, whose governments had by then changed their class character. The remnants of working class democracy still existing in spite of several years of reformist movement in the East European socialist countries was overcome with ease, at least temporarily, by the joint efforts; of the corporate managers of socialism in these countries and the Soviet Union with the active support of the imperialist powers. The increasing resistance from the working class in Soviet Union would have prompted the ‘radicals’ of that country to intervene in the East European countries without delay and to pull down the existing governments there. This was necessary for the radicals of the Soviet Union in order to consolidate their shaky position in their own country.

VII

Bourgeoisie ideologues sum up the emerging international situation with obvious satisfaction:  ‘corporate socialism’ and “corporate capitalism have confluenced to the pursuit of a ‘Common European Home’ and the specter of communism and class struggle were exorcised from Europe.  “End of history” – that was how Francis Fukuyama, the deputy director of U.S. departments policy staff, titled his thesis on the developments in socialist countries. In his view, Marxian interpretation of history in terms of class struggles and conflicts, has become irrelevant and the present epoch represents the ultimate, the inevitable and irreversible victory of liberal capitalism over all other political ideologies including fascism and communism. According to him man’s ideological evolution has come to an end and hereafter, it will be only an endless pursuit of technology.

 

Fukuyama’s thesis published in last summer and sold out in matter of minutes had prophesied: “The passing of Marxism-Leninism first from China and then from the Soviet Union will mean its death as a living ideology of world historical significance. For while there may be some isolated true believers left in places like Managua, Pyongyang, or Cambridge, Massachusetts, the fact that there is not a single large state in which it is a going concern undermines completely its pretensions to being in the vanguard of human history.”
However just a few weeks after the Fukuyama’s prophesy came in print, events in China unfolded themselves in a totally unexpected manner. In spite of the massive propaganda buildup and active support from imperialist agencies for subversion, China’s political system survived. All sorts of postures from the high pedestals of morality and principles as well as economic sanctions were resorted to in order to pressurize Socialist China. But, on September 29th, celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Chinese revolution Jiang Zemin the new General Secretary of Chinese Communist party declared on unequivocal terms: ‘ Victory in this struggle has further proved that the Chinese people’s choice of the socialist road and the cause of socialist reform being carried out by them under the Leadership of the Chinese Communist Party have become the irreversible tide of history over the entire vast territory of China. No difficulties can stop, and no internal and external hostile forces can shake or alter, the advance and development of socialist China.”
The administration of USA had to send its former President Nixon to patch up with the Chinese people; all other imperialist countries had to follow the US example one by one. Fukuyama along with many other bourgeoisie ideologues’ dreams that with the death of Marxian ideology and the collapse of the socialist system, all the resistance against ‘common marketization of the world’ under the hegemony of the corporate managers of world capitalism could be easily overcome’. Of course they are not idle dreamers, Peter Drucker sums up the business strategy of the nineties for the global managers:(l): “Business tomorrow will follow two new rules, One: to move work to where the people are, rather than people to where the work is. Two: to farm out activities that does not offer opportunities for advancements into fairly senior management and professional positions (e.g. clerical work, maintenance, the ‘Back office’ in the brokerage house, the drafting room in the large architectural firm, the medical lab in the hospital) to an outside contractor. The corporation, in stock market jargon, will be unbundled.”

Unbundling of the activities of global corporations and subcontracting out across the globe and thereby maneuvering the global labor market in order to reduce labor costs will thus be a major strategy to be followed by corporate capitalism. Realignment among the global corporations through strategic alliances and avoiding competition in order to optimize profits and to ensure a proper mix of long term and short term profits are the other components, as we have seen earlier, of the broad business strategy to be followed by corporate capitalism during the nineties. Peter Drucker, quoting the findings of Prof. Michael C. Johnson of Harvard University, states that “large business houses, especially in the USA are rapidly going private’ and sum up the trend: “They (the global corporations) are putting themselves under the control of a small number of large share holders; and in such a way that their holders’ self interest lies in building “long-term value rather than reaping immediate stock exchange gains.”

 

All, these years the apologists of capitalism have been finding fault with Marx for his failure to see the possibility of democratic capitalism; that is corporate capitalism with extensively distributed shareholdings among the public, including workers. Corporate theoreticians are singing a different tune, now: “In order to ensure long term benefits for the society and to reduce costs, a global production system should be perfected with the help of strategic alliances of global corporations which should be owned and managed by a tiny but highly responsible group of shareholders and corporate managers!”

 

Whatever be the social benefits predicted by these theoreticians under the new dispensation, it is proof for the inevitability under capitalism of a small minority coming to own and control the means of production at a global level as predicted by Marx. Even when historical developments are vindicating Marx, bourgeoisie ideologues keep shouting from the housetops on the premature death of Marxism!
It is and it has been, all these years, a habit with bourgeoisie ideologues to declare Marxism as irrelevant and outdated. When the corporate managers of world capitalism are giving finishing touches to a global production system under their hegemony towards the end of the twentieth century their denunciation of Marxism of the nineteenth century as old and outdated may very well look justified. But some 150 years ago, the Communist Manifesto had observed: “The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication draws all, even the most barbarian nations to civilization. The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction; to adopt the bourgeois mode of productions it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e. to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image1’.
A global production system under the hegemony of capitalists as visualized by Marx and Engeles had not come into vogue in 1827, when they drafted the Communist Manifesto. Even the bourgeois of Europe who were indulging in wars and destruction could not imagine that they were slowly but steadily working toward perfecting of a global production machine of massive proportions. In those days it was only a tendency which Marx and Engels took notice of and made their brilliant prediction of an emerging global bourgeoisie and as its antithesis an international working class.
The dreams of a global production system and highly diversified commodity and labor market at the global level but, integrated under the hegemony of a tiny group of shareholders and corporate managers in the developed capitalist countries are now slowly emerging toward the end of the twentieth century. According to the visions of the bourgeoisie the millions over millions of proletarians of different trades and vocations and of different nationalities who will be a mere appendage of the global production system will, be politically and spiritually satisfied with the magic band of “social democracy” controlled by a tiny minority of global property owners and operated through the mechanism of market, public legislation and routine administration of justice. Mortimer the Financial Times Analyst models up the attitude of the modern proletariat to such a global system in the backdrop of Soviet experience (2): “Communism was an attempt at an historical short cut, adopted by relatively small groups of intellectuals and class-conscious workers in countries in the early stages of industrialization. A fully-formed industrial working class tends to prefer some form of social democracy, while the atomized ‘Post-Fordist” workers of today when strictly industrial jobs require a high level of education and relatively unskilled jobs are to be found mainly in the service sector; may turn out not to be interested in socialism of any sort.”
In effect an Orwellian model of society wherein a small minority equipped with an all powerful modern mass media forces down its political hegemony over the “proles’ who are not concerned about politics is the bourgeois vision for the future of mankind. A sizeable minority among the managers, the academics and the intelligentsia in Soviet Union and other European Socialist countries may have their own dreams about playing an equal, but more likely a subsidiary role, in the global production system, now visualized by the corporate managers of world capitalism. But how far the working class of these countries, especially that of the Soviet Union, with its long traditions of proletarian democracy, will be prepared to compromise their freedom and political privileges for the sake of ‘Social. Democracy’ is something that history will reveal itself. But as we have seen earlier, indications are that there is strong resistance in Soviet Union from the working class against the content and the direction that Perestroika has assumed under the leadership of the radicals.

 

A recent opinion survey conducted by a Soviet Sociological Research Institute revealed that the vast majority of Muscovites, who had given Yeltsin a massive mandate to the Supreme Soviet, were opposed to the interpretations given by the radicals to Perestroika. They were against changes in property relations and large income inequalities, for social equity and justice, for strengthening of the socialist system within Soviet Union and for strengthening the economic ties with in the socialist world. The authors of this study, published in the Soviet periodical ‘Twentieth Century and Peace’ after seeing that hardly 17 per cent of the Muscovites had supported their interpretation of Perestroika had lamented; ‘ After all how many for genuine perestroika?”. The situation is rapidly changing in the Soviet Union and the working class has started asserting itself in order to defend the gains of socialism; even the attitudes and perceptions of the intelligentsia are slowly changing as was evident from the recent conference which discussed Dr.Abalkin’s proposals for economic reforms.
The reform movement which started long back in Poland and Hungary after having failed to bring in any major structural changes in the economy is now trying to take satisfaction by changing the name of republic or the party. Injecting “elements of capitalism into socialism” is proving itself to be an uphill task and also a messy one. It appears that the confusion and chaos created by the reforms could be resolved only by parceling out vast segments of their national economies and their taking over by foreign capitalist corporations. The possibility of such maneuvers and their success will be decided by the attitude and mood of the working class in these countries which though somewhat indifferent today under the conditions of ideological confusion created by the bourgeoisie and lack of organization, should not be taken for granted.
It is to be noted that even the attitude and perceptions of the working class in the imperialist countries under “social democracy” are rapidly changing today. Apart from the problems of persistent unemployment and deteriorating social welfare schemes, new types of threats and tensions are being created as the corporate managers of world capitalism are giving finishing touches to the global production system. Their plans for strategic alliances among global corporations are naturally aimed at the proletariats of different countries who could be easily browbeaten and played against each other by the global managers through the clever manipulations of a global labor market. Business activities of a global corporation could be ‘unbundled’ and palmed out to be sub-contracted across national boundaries to its own subsidiaries or to other global corporations in order to overcome labor resistance in a particular country or region.

 

A fragmented proletariat or “the atomized Post-Fordist workers” as referred to by the consultants of global business are proving to be more and more powerless today in the hands of a few corporate managers armed with an all powerful global information system. The possibilities for instant closures or retrenchments as well as instant switching of production activities across the globe to any or several locations without loss of business and profits are becoming a near term possibility with the rapid progress in data processing capabilities and expansion of global communication system. The global managers of USA are already resorting to such maneuvers in order to browbeat the American trade unions. The Vice President of the AFLCIO reacted with bitterness: “These Sons of the bitches’’ has to be taught a lesson through solidarity action by the international working class. The trade unions of USA as well as other imperialist countries are becoming increasingly conscious about the need for the international unity of working class.

VIII

Capitalist system can sustain itself and survive only if it keeps on expanding; stagnation means crisis and collapse. The worlds as we live have its limits, but because of its inner contradictions, capitalism is not able to reach anywhere near these limits. The only incentive for expansion of capitalist system is private profit or personal greed. The rich getting richer and poor getting poorer need not be in absolute terms but certainly in relative terms is an absolute law that governs capitalism.
The imperialist countries of today or the ‘North’ as they call themselves were the early starters on the capitalist path. The rich in the North has by now become fabulously rich and the working people there enjoy far better living conditions compared to their counterparts in the South  i.e. the developing countries. The gap between the North and the South keep on widening day after day and this will be so, so long as relations between the two continue on capitalist lines. The North keeps on pushing the South into a deeper and deeper debt trap.
The North just cannot accept the South on equal terms. It means redeeming the South of its massive debts and the wealth amassed by the rich of the North. That is an instant recipe for crisis and collapse of the system. The South on its own cannot accept unequal terms. But the ruling classes of the South have compromised themselves to be junior partners of the rich monopolists of the North but, the revolt of its people is gaining strength day after day.
The imperialists would like to bulldoze their way and they had been doing it but, the socialist camp was a deterrent, all these years. With or without the support of the socialist camp the South will rally themselves around and resist such moves, the recent response to the Panama incident is only an indicator. Even if the North succeeds in bulldozing, that is no solution to the crisis in capitalism because it means getting back to the centuries old colonial regimes. North cannot extricate and isolate itself from the South because that will mean foregoing its claims on the debtors, crisis and collapse of the capitalist system, and tacit transition to planned economy, socialism or communism. That also means demise of the capitalist system even before it has reached the limits of the world that we live in.
There is no solution under the framework of capitalism for the problems faced by the ‘integrated interdependent world’ of today. Capitalism cannot further expand and come out of its crisis by continuing on the path of extensive growth as seen by the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Its days are numbered; the bourgeois and the global managers of corporate capitalism are on their last wicket.
Extensive growth of capitalism not being possible any more and blocked by the North-South polarization of the world, the bourgeoisie is now fine-tuning the global production machine under its hegemony for intensifying exploitation in order to avoid a crisis and collapse of the system. Smaller and smaller groups of shareholders owning bigger and bigger global corporations and strategic alliances among them in order to maneuver the international labor market are, as we have seen, the grand strategies now being finalized by the global managers of corporate capitalism. All such maneuvers by the rich in the North are intended for the intensive exploitation of the working class of the North and then the South as a whole but will help the imperialists and the monopolists only to delay their ultimate downfall.
The working class and the trade unions of USA and other imperialist countries are becoming increasingly aware of such maneuvers of global managers. The people of the South in general and the working class in particular are becoming increasingly conscious about the designs of the imperialists and the monopolists.

 

It is true, reaction has struck the Socialist Europe and the ruling elites there, are conspiring with the global managers of corporate capitalism to hijack their countries to the imperialist camp. But the working classes of these socialist countries will ultimately assert itself, throw out the reactionary elite classes from power and show them their place in history. How quickly and how thoroughly they will do this job entirely depend on the level of understanding and consciousness of the international movement of the working class.

“Working men of all countries unite!” The call of the communist manifesto is even more relevant today than it was someone and a half century ago.

References and Notes

  1. This article of “Peter Druckers’ 1990s”, original published in the Economist appeared in the Economic Times of 27 and 28th October 1989.
  2. This item “East—West to North—South” by Edward Mortimer of Financial Times, London appeared in Economic Times of Nov.23rd 1989. The writer speculates on the possible confluence of interests of the West and the Socialist countries and they jointly facing the third world problems.
  3. This item “USSR closes ranks with EC” by Malcom Subhan appeared in the Economic Times of 21st December 1989.
  4. “Alliances, not competition is the strategy”– article by Francis Cherunilam appeared in Economic Times of 21st Dec. 1989. Report by Quentin Peel of Financial Times, “ Radical New Plan f or USSR” appeared in Economic Times of 26th Nov. 1989. The Moscow News of 3rd Dec. 1989 gives an even more graphic picture of this conference where Dr. Abalkin in his key note address presented three alternative proposals for the marketisation of Soviet economy, conservative, radical and moderately radical’. MN reported with regret that none of the three alternatives found acceptance by the delegates who cheered and applauded a fourth alternative which was presented by Alexei Sergeyev, head of a chair at the ALJCTU Higher School of the Trade Union Movement. This fourth alternative was basically for strengthening of the planning mechanism, for confiscation of black money and other related measures which basically rejected the marketisation approach. The conference venue also witnessed demonstrations against “ Abalkanisation of the country”.
  5. The Soviet Monthly “Socialism Principles, Practice and Prospects” — November 1989, where Onikov reviews the progress of Perestroika in an interview to the journal. His comparison of democracy under Brezhnev and Stalin, obviously not meant for justifying Stalin, is nevertheless an indicator. It appears that the recent attacks on Stalin are more intended as fight against the economic policies and working class democracy under Stalin rather than for genuine democracy and openness as is generally believed.

 

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE SECOND INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

Source: INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE SECOND INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

KERALA: SOLAR COMMISSON REPORT

Source: KERALA: SOLAR COMMISSON REPORT

KERALA: SOLAR COMMISSON REPORT

Source: KERALA: SOLAR COMMISSON REPORT

KERALA: SOLAR COMMISSON REPORT

SOLAR SCAM: VIEW FROM A GLOBAL WINDOW

This blog was crafted four years ago in August 2013, when Justice Sivarajan took aver as Solar Commission. Sarita, a young woman entrepreneur had ventured into the business of promoting the highly subsidized solar power program of Central Government, using German equipment and systems. For our vastly under-developed local media it was a god-sent incentive for weaving sexy stories.

Sarita was harassed and mentally tortured under the cover of a judicial commission. In sharp contrast to the ongoing actress abduction case, no feminist turned up in defence of this woman entrepreneur. And, nobody is concerned about how society was benefited by this judicial enquiry lasting around fifty long months and costing some 50 million Rupees. Has Kerala society gone sick, far beyond redemption?

 

Einstein was awarded Nobel Prize in 1921, for his discovery of the law on photoelectric effects. But, practical photo-voltaic devices were developed and used, much earlier by German scientists, even by the end of nineteenth century. None of these great scientists could have imagined that their inventions would lead to such novel scandals and highly imaginative agitations, in the god’s own country like ours.

The first photo-voltaic device, I personally handled, was a simple photometer manufactured in East Germany for use in conjunction with a Flexaret box camera, made in socialist Czechoslovakia. Even an unskilled photographer like me could produce good quality photographs, using these simple devices. That was in the early sixties: During the past half century, there were dramatic changes in politics as well as science and technology, including the technology of image capturing as well as photo voltaic devices.

Photo films have disappeared and film cameras replaced by digital cameras that produce cheap high quality images even without the help of light meters. And, photo-voltaic industry, targeted at electricity generation was growing leaps and bounds during the last two decades, thanks to the Kyoto protocol for containing the so-called global warming, by limiting the use of fossil fuels like coal and oil.

With the developed countries, as a block, refusing to honor their commitment to reduce carbon emissions, Kyoto protocol died a premature death: USA played its Nuclear card, and now European Union led by Germany is playing the Solar card, for substituting fossil fuel electricity: Developing countries like India, who do not have technology alternatives of their own, seem to be helplessly falling in line with the developed countries. Power sector working group for India’s twelfth five year plan has recommended a capacity addition of 20,000 MW each by way of Nuclear and Solar electricity, using equipment and systems, imported from developed countries.

India has signed its nuclear deal with USA for opening up its market for imported nuclear power plants, while its own nuclear power development program is left to stagnate due to funds constraints. And, Indian Prime Minister, on his recent visit to Germany, has contracted a loan of Rs.7, 000 Crore for importing Solar-PV equipment from that country: Germany has been investing heavily in Solar related R&D, during the past decade as part of a national discipline, and presently it accounts for 47 percent of the output of global Solar PV industry. Under-performance of the highly capital intensive Solar-PV sector as a whole is alleged to be the major reason for the current Euro-zone financial crisis.

Despite such difficulties and dissent notes by US energy industry, European Union is going ahead with its Solar-PV program led by Germany. A massive international event is planed in Paris, under the banner of 28th European Photo-voltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition, is scheduled for 30th September to 02 October: Over 4000 delegates from 76 countries and 656 research institutions and industries had participated in the 27th conference held in Munich, last year.

With its less than one percent share in the global solar-PV industry, India was nowhere in the picture: China had an eight percent share and is placed above USA (5%), Netherlands (4%), France (3%), Switzerland (3%), Italy (3%) or Japan (2%). This was in tune with my own personal assessment, when I visited a similar show, about three years ago in Noida, organized by the Ministry of New and Renewable Sources of Energy (MNRSE).

Solar PV industry in India, dominated by the MSME sector, had deliberated at that time on what need to be done in order to improve the national capabilities in Solar-PV sector: Its recommendations are valid even today. The theme paper, prepared at that time, had stressed the need for evolving a “comprehensive research roadmap, in collaboration with Indian universities and national labs, with clearly defined, time bound, technology and cost goals.” These recommendations were aimed at “creating a plan to develop and strengthen the entire Solar-PV supply chain, from silicon feedstock, wafer manufacturing, materials and equipment to end systems”.

Nothing much has happened by way of in-house R&D and technology development, and India’s Solar-PV program continues to be dependent on imported equipment and systems, even today. Nehru was great proponent of technological self-reliance, a policy that had paid rich dividends for the country, as in sectors like nuclear and space technologies. However, programs and projects launched by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission as well as the other numerous agencies and public sector undertakings organized under MNRSE, are apparently dedicated to solar power development based on the strength of imported equipment and systems.

Solar PV Value Chain diagram, given elsewhere in this article, is a quote from a well produced recent hand-out, titled India Solar PV Report by Energy Alternative India (EAI-www.eai.in), a professional consultancy body financed by Indian big business and manned by experts drawn from the alumni of IIT’s and IIMs. This document just does not talk about any Indian R&D program on Solar-PV, unlike the industry document, brought out a few years ago.

Perspectives and prescriptions in this EAI document are seen reflected in the programs sponsored by Central and State Government organizations. Even the programs of Solar Energy Corporation of India, the Central Public Sector Unit, recently constituted with Dr. Anil Kakodkar, the former (retired) Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission, are no different with regards to its commitments and loyalty to imported technologies and equipment.

Based on its own interpretation of Electricity Act 2003, MNRES is insisting that power utilities in the country should be brought under legal compulsion to source certain minimum percentage of electricity sold by them from the so called ecofriendly solar power plants, even at higher prices, and even on a cost plus basis, in support of the infant Solar-PV industry and on moral considerations around global warming. German policy experts, who dominate the EU policy making process, argue that these apparent subsidies will disappear within fifteen to twenty years time, when Solar-VP will break even with conventional electricity.

Such policies are naturally welcomed by German industry and their R&D but are not convincing enough for the people of other countries of EU. The ongoing recession and consequent fall in demand are further complicating the economics of power utilities in Spain and Italy: The low cost non-solar power plants are, reportedly, facing irrational shutdowns in these countries..

Policy makers of our MNRES are insisting that similar policies as in EU should be implemented in India as well, in support of the Solar-PV industry. In Europe and Germany, possibly, there is some logic for such policies, because the subsidies go to the local industry. But in our case, we will be subsidizing the Solar-PV industry of Germany, USA or China, because we do not have any national R&D plan to develop our own industry. MNRES is insisting that the EU policy of compulsory buying of energy at higher costs from solar power plants should be implemented, irrespective of the source of technology and equipment.

State level agencies, like the ANERT in Kerala, operate under the supervision and dictates of central ministry. ANERT was an autonomous body directly under electricity department, and it was brought under the control of Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) very recently. Delhi was planning to implement, jointly with ANERT, an online Solar-PV power plant of one MW capacity, at Kanchikodu and KSEB is under legal compulsion to purchase energy from this plant, at a prefixed price of around Rs.15 per unit, according to the current norms laid down by MNRES. It, sure, was an attractive proposal and a gold mine for a rural investor holding some stock of black money for paying bribes.

True, Sarita, Shalu, Biju & Co have jumped in to the deal and dirtied the entire solar program with all sorts of scandals and pay-offs, as alleged by the Opposition Leader and fully endorsed by the Chief Minister. However, neither of them seems to be aware of the larger issues involved, and the real issues of governance that affect the life and development of our people.

EOD/28-08-2013

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KSRTC IN CRISIS

Source: KSRTC IN CRISIS

KSRTC IN CRISIS

THE NEED FOR A PARADIGM SHIFT

Engr K Vijayachandran FIE

 

Crisis in KSRTC continues unabated: Rehabilitation plan finalized by the UDF Government in Jan 2014 failed to take off: This statutory corporation was incorporated in 1965, as a joint venture with the Government of India and as stipulated by the Road Transport Corporations Act of 1950.

Section 3 of the act had authorized the establishment of Road Transport Corporations in the States, ‘considering, (a) the advantages it offered to the public, trade and industry by the development of road transport, (b) the desirability of coordinating any form of road transport with any other form of transport and, (c) the desirability of extending and improving the facilities for road transport in any area and of providing an efficient and economical system of road transport service therein’.

According to Section 18 of the act, ‘general duty of an RTC was to exercise its powers, as progressively to provide or secure or promote the provision of, an efficient, adequate, economical and properly coordinated system of road transport services in the State or part of the State for which it is estab­lished and in any extended area.’

According to Section 7 ‘the State Government may, after ascertaining the views of the Corporation, by notification in the Official Gazette, to constitute one or more Advisory Councils consisting of such number of persons, on such terms, and for the purpose of advising the Corporation on such matters, as may be specified in that notification.’

According to Section 7A ‘where a Corpo­ration is satisfied that it is expedient for the more efficient discharge of its functions, it may, with the concurrence of the State Government and the Central Government, frame by notification in the Official Gazette a scheme or schemes providing for the establishment of one or more subsidiary corporation.’

All these indicate that the RTC Act 1950 was intended to establish institutional capabilities at the state level for the development and regulation of road transport infrastructure. SRTCs were not conceived as socialist enterprises: they were conceived as public utilities to help economic development based on the historical experience of industrial countries.

However, this did not happen as envisioned by the law makers of 1950: State-reorganization and subsequent delays in the formation of effective governments, role conflicts with local RTAs and motor vehicles departments, as well as vested interests of private road transport operators had contributed to delays and policy confusion that continues to exist even today.

When I took up my first study on KSRTC in 1985, the general belief  or consensus was that KSRTC should prove its mettle by competing with private operators (1). Detailed analysis had shown that the inefficient and comparatively high-cost private operators were making profits because they avoid or skip unprofitable routs and schedules, where as KSRTC was duty-bound to operate them. This is a common experience: When public and private enterprises share a common market, private sector appropriates the surpluses and losses are forced on public sector.

However, the situation was seen slowly changing by the time I did the second study, eight years later in 1993 (2): Many RTCs, especially in southern states, had strengthened their regulatory role as envisioned in the statute, not only by increasing their relative fleet strength and expanding into rural areas and also by decentralization of the management. District-level subsidiary corporations headed by an young IAS officer, supported by competent senior technical staff and well equipped workshops, as I could witness in Kanyakumari district, were in sharp contrast with the KSRTC divisions or depots, remote-controlled by the Chief Office at Thiruvananthapuram, under he shabby management culture inherited from the colonial days of Travancore Maharaja. Even small towns like Thakkala were well connected with their rural hinterlands by locally managed town services, organized by Nesamony Transport Corporation headquartered at Nagarkoil.

Years later in 2007, as I wrote a review on Transport Infrastructure in Kerala, situation had further improved in Tamilnadu and also in Andhra, compared to Kerala. Quoted below are passages from this article, later published as my wordpress blog (3): https://kvijaya40.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/kerala-infrastructure/

“State Road Transport Corporations plays a leading role in organising comparatively efficient public transport systems in most other states. In this respect, Kerala lags far behind other southern states: It has only one RTC and most parts of the state are dominated by private buses which simply outnumber KSRTC buses by eight to one. There are only 135 RTC buses per million population in Kerala, compared to 284 in Tamilnadu and 253 in Andhra Pradesh…..

 …Dependency on private bus operators has resulted in extremely poor vehicle utilisation: There are more than 1100 passenger buses per million population in Kerala, compared to 393 in Tamilnadu and 253 in Andhra. And, these numbers do not include the large number of mini buses and vans that operate illegal passenger services on Kerala roads. Public transport is hardly any better in Kerala, despite the much larger deployment of passenger buses and other vehicles which are over-crowding the road network work……

 ….Number of three wheelers per million population in Kerala is nearly three to four times that of TN and AP. In the use of two wheelers, Kerala is far ahead of the other two states, if mopeds are excluded from the count. Kerala has relatively large number of personal vehicles including taxis and private motor cars…

 .. It has 112 thousand motor vehicles on the road, compared to 72 in AP and 132 in TN: On area basis, AP has only less than one-fourth and TN about two-third number of vehicles on the road compared to Kerala. Karanataka is, possibly, no different:

 …. accident rate per vehicle in Kerala is nearly double that of the other two states. The fact that more than sixty persons die on Kerala roads every week, is an indicator for the poor quality of road transport infrastructure in the state

 ….Intra-district and city-town services are the weakest links in the public transport network of Kerala and these public transport segments are mostly under the tyranny of small-time private bus operators and the Regional Transport Authorities headed by the district collectors. Routes and licences given to private operators become their private property, subject to judicial reviews even by the High Court.

 ….It is high time that public road transport network get liberated from these archaic statutes and brought on par with more civilised countries, where it is organised inevitably under a public monopoly.”

Galloping vehicle population in Kerala was breaking down its roads and, State PWD was failing to catch with their repairs and maintenance, despite the massive Rs.2000 Crore World Bank project. There were 39,137 road accidents in 2016 according to State Crime Records Bureau, and this was an all time record. Two wheelers, which account for nearly two-thirds of the vehicle population, were involved in more than half of these accidents.

Failure of public transport system has created a boom in the two-wheeler market of Kerala. Death rates due to road accidents had crossed even the ten per day mark, three years ago. Damaged and abandoned vehicles on the roadsides are a common sight; another sort of pollution caused by motor vehicles.

State Planning Board recently made a detailed review of the 161,000 KM length of Kerala roads: Road density in Kerala was 414 km/100 sqkm, the highest in any state and more than five times the national average. Road length per lakh population was 506 km in Kerala, against the national average of 259. Kerala with a population density of more than double the national average was cautioned against this liberal use of land for roads.

All these factors, rapid rise of vehicle population, increasing rate of fatal and non-fatal road accidents, and rapidly deteriorating road conditions call for an urgent paradigm shift in the organisation and management of KSRTC: The state could be guided by the reform experiences of other RTCs. Unfortunately, the specialist consultant appointed by Kerala Government, Prof Khanna, has not cared to look at the problems of this statutory body from an all-India perspective.

Neither has he cared to study why the rehabilitation package of 2014 simply failed to take off. He had two-day long discussions with the union leaders and senior executives of KSRTC in December last year at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS). He has reportedly left the country after making a fifty-slide presentation, and was not available for any discussion.

Proposals like replacing diesel buses with LNG buses, starting of super-fast services, wet-leasing of high-tech buses from foreign automobile giants etc, as publicised by the CEO of KSRTC through newspapers are not mentioned in the revival package suggested by the specialist consultant. He has not proposed even a preliminary plan for financial restructuring of the corporation.

This sort of casual approach toward the KSRTC crisis should end immediately, considering the seriousness of the crisis facing this statutory body as well as its 30,000 employees and 37,000 pensioners. There has to be a paradigm shift in the Government approach as well as in the perceptions of general public.

Director board of KSRTC presently has 15 members; eight of them official and seven non-officials. Selection of the seven non-official directors has not attracted any adverse criticism so far, but that does not mean; it was done in the best interests of KSRTC and the people of Kerala. Paradigm shift means a critical review of this board composition and corrective action as necessary.

RTC Act demands timely preparation and submission of annual reports and audited accounts of this statutory body, and getting them reviewed by CAG and state legislature. These were meticulously followed in the past and audited reports were readily available during my second study of KSRTC in 1985. The practice has been virtually discontinued: Paradigm shift means zero tolerance towards such administrative lapses

RTC Act provides for one or more advisory boards for helping the statutory bodies on policy issues. However, neither the government nor the CMD of KSRTC has found such advisory bodies to be of any relevance. Possibilities with such advisory boards should be explored at the cabinet level.

And again, the RTC Act suggests incorporation of subsidiary corporations for serving the regions or districts in the state more efficiently. Consultative forums with the participation of district administration could serve as advisory committees for these district level bodies: Success stories of such reforms from Tamilnadu and other states should encourage KSRTC to embark on such reforms.

NATPAC of Kerala (4) as well as the Association of State Road Transport Undertakings (ASRTU) (5) could guide the proposed district level RTCs in re-designing and re-scheduling of operations, taking into account the local needs as well as the interests of local bus operators and their employees. Faculties and students of local professional colleges could be associated in such programs.

Schedules and tariffs could be decided to suite local and regional requirements and for ensuring traffic operations on a no-loss no-profit basis, with the support of a calibrated subsidy system to be administered by the state government.

KSRTC has a net-work of offices, depots and workshops across the state covering all the 14 districts (see map) for implementing a truly state-wide plan in which even the retired employees could participate in case they so desire: Total land holding in 14 districts is estimated at 427 Acres.

Kerala Govt could learn from the experience of other states and take measures to restructure and reorganise KSRTC in line with the provisions of the RTC Act: A DPR for this with the objective of KSRTC jointly with the proposed 14 district level subsidiaries organizing urban transport services, in the 86 municipalities and 6 municipal corporations that would effectively network with their 941 neighbouring village panchayats. And, the inter-district and inter-state services need to be integrated into this state-wide network (6)

The programme will need an additional fixed capital of around Rs.650 Crores in the next four years: Rs 500 Crore for 2000 new buses and Rs. 150 Crores for plant and machinery and office equipment for the 14 subsidiaries. We may add another Rs.350 Crore to this, and conceive a Rs. 1000 Crore five-year plan for building a state wide road transport infrastructure under the banner of KSRTC. And that is just nothing compared to the massive high-tech projects with imported systems and technologies.

These investments could be easily financed by the savings in the economy for a year or two. And, we may not need global consultants for preparing a DPR for this: Centre for Management Development (CMD) and/or Institute for Management in Government (IMG) could be asked to provide the advisory services for the reorganisation and restructuring of KSRTC and preparing a DPR as necessary.

The paradigm shift essentially means, looking at KSRTC as the statutory body for the development and regulation of road transport in Kerala, as envisaged in the RTC Act and not as a mere bus operator competing with private operators.

References:

 

  1. This study report was sponsored by Kerala State Road Transport Employees Association (KSRTEA) in 1985: Sri Viswanatha Menon-former Member of Parliament and Minister for Finance, GOK. He wrote fairly long introductory note for the report which was published in Malayalam and very much appreciated by EMS, the then General Secretary of CPI(M).

 

  1. This second study report of 1993 was also sponsored by KSRTEA: It has attempted a detailed comparative study of three dozen RTCs, regarding operating efficiency and costs with the help of data base published in the annual reports of the Association of Road Transport Undertakings (ASRTU). KSRC emerged as an above the average performer according this analysis which had also quantified the potential scope for improvements like fuel consumption, employee productivity, maintenance costs etc. Report was translated into Malayalam and widely circulated among the employees. English version of the report is available in digital format.

 

  1. This article was published in the Passline business magazine: The full article can be down loaded from my wordpress blog.

 

  1. NATPAC is a research organisation specialising in transportation studies under the Kerala State Committee on Science and Technology.

 

  1. ASRTU (see-2 above) has been regularly publishing operational statistics of RTC: It was an extremely useful database for comparative studies: But they discontinued this in 1993.CIRT-Central Institute of Road Transport- associate of ASRTU provides consultative assistance to RTCs.

 

 

10-08-2017

 

 

OPEN MAIL TO SRI KEJRIWAL C/O TIHAR JAIL

Source: OPEN MAIL TO SRI KEJRIWAL C/O TIHAR JAIL

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