November 7, 2017 was the 100th Anniversary (“new,” Gregorian, Calendar) of the Russian Revolution. According to the “old,” Julian calendar still in use in the Russia of the time, the Revolution occurred on October 25, 2017, which is why, in many quarters it is still referred to as the — da, da! — “October Revolution.” (It is interesting to note that the “Julian” calendar was named after Julius Caesar, whose government introduced it in what would come to be known as 45 B.C [or B.C.E.. depending upon your religious/calendrical point-of-view]. The “modern,” Gregorian calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.) The current calendar date was celebrated, noted upon, denigrated, around the world. It was also ignored in certain quarters, although most of those persons-to-institutions that did, like the government of Vladimir Putin, which did for the most part ignore it, made it clear that they were ignoring it .
Outside of Russia, it has been widely noted that the Soviet Union, which was established as a result of the October Revolution, lasted only 75 years. Many observers, capitalist or socialist or other, have taken some satisfaction in this occurrence. Many Marxist-Leninists, including myself, took and have taken the demise of the Soviet Union with sadness. However, some of us, at least, recognize that among Lenin’s many great contributions to the understanding of human history and how it works is the concept of “two steps forward/one step back.”
Indeed, what can be considered as the first capitalist revolution against the then predominant feudal order (or a variant of it) can be said to have been the Cromwellian Revolution in England, 1640-61. To be sure, it did not represent industrial capitalists, for the industrial revolution would not get underway until the mid-18th century. But it did represent the rising mercantile capitalists — and it failed. Now one could have said at the time, “see, capitalism will never work; feudalism and royal primacy in government will always be the systems of state control.” And one would have been wrong. In judging what happened in the Soviet Union, one should certainly take the Cromwellian lesson intro account.
Now Lenin for the most part applied his “two steps forward/one step back” formula to what was happening in the early development of the Soviet Union that occurred during his lifetime that was cut short so tragically. But in my view (and perhaps Lenin’s too) the concept can be applied, not simplistically of course, but applied never-the-less to the overall development of socialist revolution (as happened in the development of capitalism). And let us hope that that is the case. For if socialist revolution does not begin to develop around the world, fairly soon, our species and many others will be gathered up in what I have termed “The Suicide of Capitalism.”
There is another model for what some see as a road to socialism and that is the Chinese hybrid socialist-capitalist system. But the Soviet approach, at least until it became corrupted (in the literal sense of the word), was intended to build a purely socialist state, at the time. Which failed, as is well-known. But it did not fail on its own. For, for the entire 75 years of its existence it was confronted by what will someday come to be known as “The 75 Years’ War Against the Soviet Union.”
In this series of two columns I will VERY briefly review/list the major events in that major war that was waged by Western Capitalism/Imperialism against the Soviet Union. It was mainly non-military (with the exception of the Great Patriotic War, 1941-45). But nevertheless, it was a war which had the very definite aim of overthrowing the Soviet system. I list below its major elements. In Part 2 of this column, I will discuss each one in a bit of detail. Of course, a full treatment would require much more space than we have here. Indeed, a book could well be written on the subject (and some have, albeit indirectly). But this can be considered to be a start on a subject which has been widely ignored. In my view, however, it has to be taken into account in any accounting of what happened in and to that great socio-historical experiment known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The Major Elements of the 75 Years War:
“The Intervention,” on the side of the “White Russian” resistance to the Red Revolution, began almost immediately after its initial success in overthrowing the Provisional Government.
After the end of the Russian Civil War in 1921, the Western Powers were slow to recognize the Soviet government. The United States was the last to do so, in 1933.
During the rise of Nazi German militarism, the two major Western powers, France and Great Britain refused to negotiate any joint defense pacts with the Soviet Union.
The “non-intervention” policy of the Western Democracies” (including the United States) in the Spanish Civil War made the continuing anti-Soviet policy clear.
The atomic bombing of Japan was not necessary for the US to win there. A major factor was the aim of U.S. policy to keep the Soviet Union a) out of Japan and b) from enabling the Korean Resistance to take over the whole peninsula from the justly hated Japanese occupiers (See my Korea column for text.)
11 . Interference to prevent the development of pro-Soviet but non-Soviet sphere of influence European govts.: in the Italian election in 1948, in the Greek civil war.
Churchill’s Declaration of the Cold War in the famous “Iron Curtain” speech.
U.S. post-war German policy: unilateral currency reform; setting up the GFR; the Berlin Blockade.
The Hungarian counter-revolution of 1956. The Arrow-Cross.
The Cuban “Missile-Crisis.”
The maintenance of the Cold War even during the major diversion for the U.S. of the War on Viet Nam.
Carter/Brzezinski and Afghanistan: “We will create the Soviet Union’s Viet Nam.” And they did.
Leading to the Reaganite Final Arms Race.
Part 2 The 75 Years’ War Against the Soviet Union
In this Part 2 I discuss each one of those events in a bit of detail. Of course, as I noted, a full treatment would require much more space than we have here on The Greanville Post. Indeed, a book could well be written on the subject. But this can be considered a start on a subject which has been widely ignored. However, in my view it has to be taken into account in any accounting of what happened in and to that great socio-historical experiment known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.In Part 1 of this two-part series, after an introduction about the setting for the October 25 Revolution of 1917 (November 7, 1917 on the “new,” Gregorian, Calendar), I noted that for the entire 75 years of its existence, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics faced what can be called “The 75 Years’ War Against the Soviet Union.” In Part 1, I very briefly reviewed that setting and what has happened to the development of socialism world-wide in the past 100 years. I also listed many of the major historical events which, ranging from diplomatic and economic isolation, to a refusal to join together to confront a common enemy, to continuing decades-long overt and covert pressure for “regime change” (finally achieved at the end of the War), to open military attack and engagement, taken together made up the War.
The Major Elements of the 75 Years War:
What has been called “The Intervention,” on the side of the “White Russian” resistance to the Red Revolution, began almost immediately after its initial success in overthrowing the Provisional Government. It was an armed counter-revolution led by the principal capitalist/imperialist power of the time, Great Britain. Winston Churchill was a leading promoter of the Intervention. Among the other nations involved were the United States, Japan, Romania, China, Greece, Serbia, Italy, and Canada.
After the end of the Russian Civil War in 1921 (and the withdrawal from Soviet territory of the Intervening nations), the Western Powers were slow to recognize the Soviet government. The United States was the last to do so, in 1933.
As the Nazi threats to peace in Europe developed in the mid-1930s, the Soviet Union offered on a number of occasion to negotiate an anti-Nazi pact, primarily with the two major Western powers, France and Great Britain. They consistently refused. Indeed, in both countries there was considerable pro-Nazi political sentiment.
The “non-intervention” policy of the “Western Democracies” (including the United States) in the Spanish Civil War made the continuing anti-Soviet policy clear. One major factor in these Western powers’ refusal even to send arms to the Spanish Republican government was that the Spanish Communist Party was a significant component of the governing coalition of the Spanish Republic. Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany not only sent weapons but also fought on the side of the Spanish fascist rebellion. The Soviet Union played a limited role—albeit critical on several occasions, in supplying arms to the Republic.
Then came Munich . With Nazi Germany threatening to invade Czechoslovakia the Soviet Union offered military assistance to the Czechs, as well as the British and the French, in order to thwart the invasion. In fact, the Red Air Force was warming up on airfields just across the Czech border, ready to fly to the aid of the Czech army. But for Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of Great Britain, it was more important to keep Hitler pointing east, towards the Soviet Union, a declared enemy from the time of Mein Kampf— the famous “Drang Nach Osten” — than it was to save the Czechs from the Nazis. After vainly trying, on numerous occasions, to get the British and the French to sign a joint defense pact against Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union finally gave up. With the signing of the “Nazi-Soviet pact” on August 25, 1939, they bought time against what they knew was eventually going to come from the Nazis.
The Nazi invasion — Operation Barbarossa— was launched on June 22, 1941. It was the only “hot” component of The 75 Years War.
The delay by the United States and Great Britain in opening of the Second Front in France on June 6, 1944, was interpreted by some as being content to let the Soviet Union bleed, especially after it had won what came to be recognized as the turning point of the Second World War, victory in the Battle of Stalingrad, on February 2, 1943. In the course of the War, all told, the Soviet Union lost between 25 and 27 million dead, military and civilian. Total U.S. military casualties in World War II amounted to about 400,000. The Soviet losses—military and civilian, and not counting housing and infrastructure, was comparable to the death of all the inhabitants of Texas, California and New York at the time, a tragedy so vast (and so rarely visualised by Western publics, especially the Americans), that the mind simply boggles. It is noteworthy that much of the animosity of the Western public toward Russians and their lack of empathy for their suffering is essentially built on constant hostile propaganda.
There are claims that a resumption of anti-Soviet military policy .was under development before WWII was over. On the fringe of such an attempt, it was well-known that when the right-wing U.S. General George Patton captured large numbers of German troops on the Southern flank of the U.S. front, thinking that his army, with them, might keep going East, he first had them stack their weapons rather turning them over for disposal. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower put an end to that maneuver as soon as he heard of it.
The atomic bombing of Japan was not necessary for the US to win there. A major factor was the aim of U.S. policy to keep the Soviet Union a) out of Japan and b) from enabling the Korean Resistance to take over the whole peninsula from the Japanese occupiers. As World War II was coming to a close, the Soviet Union was poised to invade Japan and its then colonial possession, Korea, on August 8, 1945. One motivation for the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9) was to foreclose the possibility that the Red Army would establish a foothold on Japanese territory (the first landings were to be on the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido) and would quickly take over the whole of the Korean Peninsula.
Stalin wanted peaceful co-existence, to occur after the end of World War II (see Chap. 10 of Stalin’s Wars, by Geoffrey Roberts, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006). The Western Powers would have none of it.
In the immediate post-war period, there was interference by the Western powers to prevent the development of pro-Soviet governments in the non-Soviet sphere of influence in Europe: U.S. interference in Italian election in 1948, and British intervention in the Greek civil war. (The Communists there had borne the brunt of the guerilla war waged during the Nazi occupation and wanted their rightful place in the post-war government. Denied that, war broke out.)
Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” speech of March 5, 1946, just 6 months after the conclusion of the Second World War, with the surrender of Japan, has always been shaped by the Western powers as describing something that the Soviet Union under Stalin had done. Since Stalin was still hoping for the establishment of peaceful co-existence between the Soviet Union and the Western Powers, that speech was really the opening major salvo — from the Western side — in what became the “Cold War,” the continuation of what became the 75 Years War that lasted until the final collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992.
U.S. policy Western Europe confirmed for the USSR that the Cold War was fully underway: unilateral German currency reform; setting up the German Federal Republic; the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The Hungarian Uprising of 1956 is always presented in the West as failed revolt by democratic forces against the communist government of Hungary. From the perspective of the Hungarian Communist side, however, the picture was rather different (The Truth About Hungary: Facts and Eyewitness Accounts, Moscow, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1957). From that perspective, it was a neo-fascist revolt by the forces that had ruled Hungary from 1919 to 1945 (first under the world’s first fascist dictator, Admiral Miklos Horthy, at the end under the even-more vicious Arrow Cross, who were hanging known communists from street lamps in downtown Budapest). That had to be put down, even it meant calling in Soviet tanks.
The “Cuban-Missile Crisis:” See Appendix I.
In the late 1970s, there was a secular revolt in Afghanistan and free elections were held for the first time. The Communist candidate, with Soviet backing (in this strategically-located, neighboring country), was elected. He proved to be not a very effective leader. And then so the Soviets promoted a replacement for him, provoking a certain amount of unrest. Led by his notoriously anti-Soviet National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, U.S. President Jimmy Carter determined to begin providing major support for a wide variety of anti-Communist or just anti-government Afghani as well as foreign forces (one group of fundamentalist Saudis was led by the future famous Osama bin Laden). Brzezinski famously said: “we can give them their Viet Nam.” And they did. It turned out to be one of the last phases of the 75 Years’ War.
All of this, and many other events of the Cold War, led to the Reaganite Final Arms Race of the 1980s, which in the end spent the Soviet Union into the ground, and collapse. With an economy 1/6 the size of the American, every dollar spent by Washington on weapons implied a $6-dollar effort by the Russians. Not to mention that the arms industries, being in private hands in America, as a capitalist nation, have a built-in interest in constant growth, with wars—real and most often manufactured—the best approach for extraordinary profits to all members of this malignant sector. In the Soviet Union, and still in Russia, the arms industry is basically controlled by the state.
The ultimate aim of Western Imperialism, the destruction of the Soviet Union was achieved. Of course, Russia has remained in place, and still functions to some extent as a rival to Western Imperialism. But it is in the form of a “clash of capitalisms,” nothing like that grand Soviet historical experiment, aiming to replace capitalism with socialism.
Appendix I: The Cuban “Missile Crisis”
The untold story of the “Cuban Missile Crisis” was another one of those “buried stories” that litter American history when they are inconvenient truths. In the summer of 1962 I happened to be doing part of my internship at a hospital in Western New Jersey. For a time I dated a nurse who happened to have a brother who was captain in the United States Army. When he was home on leave during that summer I happened to spend some time with him. He was hardly political and seemed very happy to be in the Army. I asked what he did and he told me “oh, we are getting ready to invade Cuba,” just like that. Very matter of fact. Sort of like Sunday in the Park with George.
All up and down the East Coast, he told me, a major invasion force was being assembled. If Kennedy was going to invade Cuba he was going to do it following an earlier version of the Powell Doctrine. No half-baked venture like the totally ill-planned Bay of Pigs fiasco. He was going to hit hard, (just like his father advised FDR not to do in the face of the Hitlerian threat, right up until Pearl Harbor, by which time he was gone). This was well before there was any “crisis,” well before there was any public notice of the situation.
When the “crisis” did occur, it was obvious to me at the time, that what had happened was that the Soviet Union and Cuba had gotten wind of the very real and major invasion threat, had at Castro’s request demanded that the US stand down, that the US did not, that Khrushchev then sent the missiles in the direction of Cuba probably never intending to actually set them up there. By so doing he did achieve his goal, and of course Castro’s, of aborting the US invasion. That is, they won. Neither Cuba nor the USSR cared a whit about how the US spun it at the time, and have spun it ever since. The US invasion was thwarted; that’s what counted.
And no, neither do I remember the officer’s name nor would he likely ever have confirmed the story to me after October, 1962. But tell me the story he did, as if it was something that was going to happen in just the normal course of events. Oh, and by the way, within the last few years this history was confirmed in full to me by a friend who was a young West Point grad at the time and later served in Viet Nam, who was personally familiar with the developments described.
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About the Author
Steven Jonas, MD, is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a“Trusted Author,” he is a Deputy Editor, Politics, for The Greanville Post; a Contributor for American Politics to The Planetary Movement;a contributor to the “Writing for Godot” section of Reader Supported News; and a contributor to From The G-Man.Furthermore, he is an occasional contributor to BuzzFlash Commentary Headlines and The Harder Stuff. He is also a triathlete (34 seasons, 250 multi-sport races).
Dr. Jonas’ latest book is Ending the ‘Drug War’; Solving the Drug Problem: The Public Health Approach, Brewster, NY: Punto Press Publishing, (Brewster, NY, 2016, available on Kindle from Amazon, and also in hardcover from Amazon).His most recent book on US politics is The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022: A Futuristic Novel (Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, Brewster, NY), and available on Amazon.This book is currently being serialized on OpEdNews, a project that will likely continue throughout the 2017 calendar year.
In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all.—Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report