The Rebel Road…

I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you’re only going to kill a man. – Ernesto Che Guevara

Fall of the Socialist Bloc – I.

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The last two decades have seen a dramatic rise in the US-led ‘pre-emptive’ strikes against enemy nations. The disdain with which the White House treats certain countries and the manner in which it marginalises and threatens them on a global scale is evident today. However, this was not the case when the USSR existed. One must, in all honesty, accept that the political scenario that pervades today is vastly different from the one that was present only three or four decades ago. It is my opinion that the objectives of liberation must include that the world has indeed failed to be decolonised, rather has moved into a new era of oppression: neo-colonialism. I will also attempt to show how the world order has changed in the last years and how this change is linked directly to the disintegration of the USSR. Furthermore, it will be shown that most of the nationalist liberation/decolonisation movements (many of which have been inappropriately and criminally dubbed “terrorist” movements by the world’s only superpower, i.e. the US) operating in the world today have suffered greatly from the transition to a unipolar world order. The author will, therefore, attempt to show that the world liberation movements have suffered terribly after the fall of USSR.

“They [the socialist bloc] undertook to consult together on all international questions involving their common interests, and to set up a unified military command, with its headquarters in Moscow. Two formal alliances – Nato and the Warsaw Pact – now confronted one another in Europe” (Bell, 122).

With the creation of the USSR and the subsequent rise of communist parties within the world at large and in Central and Eastern Europe in particular the world entered a new era in the early 20th century. With the creation of the Nato alliance in 1949 it became necessary to take steps by the socialist republics to consolidate their power. For this reason the Warsaw Pact was drafted and implemented in 1955. The member countries that later comprised part of the larger Socialist Bloc were:

1) The Soviet Union,
2) Albania,
3) Bulgaria,
4) Czechoslovakia,
5) East Germany,
6) Hungary,
7) Poland, and
8) Romania.

These countries were later reinforced with the inclusion of other important nations such as China, Cuba, Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc. It is an unfortunate fact, however, that due to many reasons the USSR started to decline. The author shall attempt to outline these reasons since they are of direct relevance to the subsequent world order.

Many critics have ostensibly alleged that the USSR broke down as a result of a breakdown in communist ideology. I shall use this opportunity to refute this argument. The USSR, by any stretch of the imagination, was not a communist country – it was a socialist country where the communist party was in power. There is a difference. Indeed there has never been any country on the face of the earth that has experienced communism. Socialism, therefore, defines a transitional stage from capitalism to communism. While it must be admitted that the communist party was in power in the USSR at the time of its disintegration, it must also be explained that the quality of the leadership in power at the time was extremely different (utterly opposite) to that at the time of the great success of the Soviet Union. Events after the 20th congress and the revisionist policies of Brezhnev, Khrushchev, Gorbachev and Yeltsin explain sufficiently. An account of how these individuals wanted to be called communists during their reign in spite of their revisionist policies is testament to their hypocrisy.

“Gorbachev cranked out a slew of slogans, including glasnost, perestroika and ‘new thinking’ in an effort to rescues socialism in the Soviet Union. Despite these shocking similarities of his policies to Khrushchev’s revisionism (Gorbachev was actually more revisionist than Khrushchev), Gorbachev was adamant in declaring himself to be a true Communist” (Shih & Shi, 89).

Comparing this to the later interview given by Gorbachev after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, in which in his own words he admits that it was his “ambition was to liquidate Communism”, clearly shows that Gorbachev (and by implication all revisionists before him) was working within the USSR to deter it from its original Marxist-Leninist path. How can one then, in all honesty, deny their role in the disintegration of this superpower?

The world, as it existed in the Cold War era, had attained a begrudging stability due to the existence of two opposing monoliths, i.e. the US and the USSR (and therefore Nato and Warsaw Pact countries). It is thus not without basis to say that both sides had to consider a far greater set of implications for pursuing their interests than is the case now. Let us consider two cases that occurred during the Cold War era and hold special significance: 1) the Cuban Missile crisis, and 2) the Afghan crisis.

In the Cuban Missile crisis the US did not send its forces directly into Cuba to initiate violent retaliation to the Soviet Union’s missile installations. This was due to the fact that the US was fully aware of the military might it would unleash upon itself and its allies should it pursue a foreign policy based on the disregard for Cuba’s sovereignty. In the Afghan crisis the US chose to wage an indirect war against the Soviet Union by training and arming local militias against the Soviet forces, rather than risk open conflict. This too can be attributed to the above mentioned rationale.

The transformation of the third world into the neo-colonial appendage of the US could only be intensified if the strongest anti-neo-liberal force was dismembered. Let us look at the case of the World Bank and the IMF’s structural adjustment programmes as they have been propagated after the Cold War. One would find that there is a great increase in the sheer number of cases of structural adjustment within the third world and as a consequence there has been a drastic rise in inequality within the same.

Let us now compare this to the recent foreign policy of the US which, openly and without consideration to the UN’s own resolutions, targets all sovereign states that constitute a potential threat to itself or its allies (especially Israel). One can clearly see that if the USSR was still present then at least the absurd ‘David and Goliath’ situation, as it exists within Iraq at this time, would not be so. Needless to say, the world as a whole and its constituting countries (particularly the third world) has lost a great equalising force with the dismembering of the USSR.

(to be continued…)


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