Eastern Europe

The fall of Stalinism in Eastern Europe — Workers' Liberty 3/25

Download as pdf, or read online below. Timeline Introduction 1. The risen people: Eastern Europe after the revolutions 2. What’s in the coffin at the funeral of socialism? 3. Lies against socialism answered 4. Stalin’s system collapses 5. Why socialists should support the banning of the CPSU 6. The triumph of unreason: market madness in the ex-USSR 7. What was the Bolsheviks’ conception of the 1917 revolution? 8. Why the workers want to restore capitalism 9. In the beginning was the critique of capitalism 10. An open letter to Ernest Mandel 11. Trotsky and the collapse of Stalinism 12. And...

Kino Eye: A film from Georgia

Although a small country, Georgia has produced some brilliant film makers, Otar Iosseliani, Mikhail Kalatozov, Nana Jorjadze, Tengiz Abuladze and Eldar Shengelaia to name only a few. Shengelaia made Blue Mountains in 1983, an absurdist satire which lampoons Soviet bureaucracy and could be seen as a precursor to the “Glasnost” (“openness”) movement associated with Mikhail Gorbachev. Soso is an aspiring novelist who regularly visits the local publishing house, desperately trying to get someone interested in his latest writing. However, the staff are lazy, frequently out for lunch, boozing and...

It's time for Georgia to choose

Two weeks ago, far-right thugs attacked the LGBTI community’s “March for Dignity” in Tblisi, Georgia. Dozens of people, mostly journalists, were badly beaten. It was a tragedy that could easily have been foreseen — and prevented. And it has triggered a historic fight led by the journalists’ union with the full support of journalists’ unions around the world. The attacks were orchestrated by supporters of the ruling party in Georgia, whose leaders bear some responsibility for what happened. Prior to the march, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said it was “not reasonable” to organise such an...

Who will stop Orban?

The European Union is expressing itself more forcefully than usual over the issue of LGBTQ+ rights in Hungary. 16 EU leaders have signed an open letter vowing to fight discrimination. Not content with banning material that supposedly “promotes” homosexuality, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán now conflates homosexuality with paedophilia. A bill passed by the Hungarian Parliament last week bans gays from being depicted on prime-time TV, educational programmes and much else beside. Hungary’s stance on gay rights clearly contravenes the EU constitution and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte went...

Lukashenko, Orban and "enemies' enemies"

“Whataboutery” is an old trick favoured by Stalinists whenever difficult questions about human rights under “socialist” (or, these days, “anti-imperialist”) regimes are raised. So, in the old days of the Stalinist empire, they would respond “what about racism in the US?” to questions about the lack of democratic rights in the USSR and Eastern Europe. The other old trick of that sort is “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. Some of the most blatant cases you’ll come across involve the Morning Star and its efforts to deny or justify the Chinese state’s treatment of the Uyghurs. The editorial (25 May)...

Remember the class-war prisoners!

The noted international trade union leader Dan Gallin used to say that what the labour movement needed is a “May 2nd Movement”. In other words, after all the wonderful speeches made on May Day, we need to focus on what happens every other day of the year and how we put our ideas into practice. In that spirit, on Sunday May 2, LabourStart will host a major online event focussing on what we sometimes call “class war prisoners”. It’s an archaic term, a leftover from the 1920s, and had been used by — among others — groups with names like “International Red Aid” and “International Labor Defense”...

Kino Eye: When abortion was illegal

Good news from Argentina: its Senate voted for abortion rights on 30 December. Back in the 1960s one of the most restrictive places in Europe for abortion was Nicole Ceauşescu’s Romania, where Abortion Law 770 was passed in 1966. Obtaining an abortion necessitated going “underground”, and estimates suggests that 500,000 women died because of the crude, unsanitary methods used. Abortion was relegalised, on similar lines to Argentina, after Ceauşescu was overthrown in 1990. Christian Mungiu’s film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) takes us through the harrowing experience of Găbiţa (Gabriela)...

Belarus revolt: stalled, but will revive

At the beginning of 2020, Belarus was in a different crisis. Then, it was about oil and President Lukashenko’s relationship with Putin. During that crisis from January to March of this year, oil supplies to Belarus from Rosneft, one of the two giant Russian oil companies, were reduced to a trickle. Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin thought Russia was not getting enough for the heavily subsidised oil provided to Lukashenko. Sechin is not just an oil oligarch. He is a leading figure in a circle close to Putin, the Siloviki, with roots in the former KGB. He is considered Russia’s second most powerful...

"One should not pretend there is only one imperialism"

Pavel Katarzheuski from the "Fair World" party in Belarus talked with Pete Radcliff from Solidarity. Could you tell us about the work of the campaigns and organisations you work through? (Fair World etc.) I am a member of the Central Committee of the Belarusian Left Party "Fair World". It is the oldest left-wing party in Belarus. It was founded in 1991 under the name "Party of the Communists of Belarus" as the successor of the Belarusian section of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In 2009 the party changed its name to The Left Party "Fair World" in order to avoid confusion with the...

Orban targets LGBT people

On 10 November, Hungary’s Minister of Justice Judit Varga unveiled a bill that will almost certainly become the ninth modification to the Basic Law of Hungary adopted in 2011. This reactionary piece of legislation adds to the already shameful article which defines the state’s conception of “the family” that “the mother is a woman, and the father is a man”. A further amendment proclaims that “Hungary protects children’s right to identify as the sex they were born with, and ensures their upbringing based on our national self-identification and Christian culture”. The Hungarian language does not...

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