Socialism Has Nothing to Do With Stalinism

Reading last week’s paper, I felt bamboozled. I was made out to defend Stalin, Mao, North Korea, the lot of them. As if they had anything to do with socialism, or with what the socialists on campus are working for. Preposterous. And for the record, I was not born in 1980 rooting for the USSR hockey team in Lake Placid; I’d have pulled strongly for the Yanks: I love the underdog. But the issue of the USSR, China, North Korea, even Cuba, has to be cleared up. Not only for a retort to the ridiculous right, but also for a clarification for those on the left who are the best defenders of justice today. Socialism, in short, is the struggle to wrest control of society from the minority for the majority; that is, to argue for a world based on human need and not corporate (or capitalist) greed. Stalinism with China and North Korea today insists that a minority party can give freedom while exploiting their people unconscionably. Socialism had and has nothing to do with these countries. In fact, as Socialists, we are even harder on these countries than the US. Socialists argue that China needs a revolution to replace oppression with liberation. Capitalist Bush wants a strong Chinese government that exploits its people so as to acquire trade deals with the World Trade Organization that would put more profits in the coffers of US business, funded by the literal sweat, blood and starvation of China. And how about the former USSR? Boris Yeltsin promised that only a few years of free-market shock therapy would bring Russia to rival the West. A decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall (an event all socialists were cheering, by the way) and Russia is in even worse condition than it was before. The Republicans like free-market capitalism? Go to Russia. See how beautiful it really is. Better yet. Go to Argentina. CNN does not report it but that country is undergoing a revolution under the free-market de-forms that left almost a third of the country unemployed and fearing starvation. Think America is invincible? Real workers’ wages have not risen since the seventies. Enron is spreading. So is the recession. But those on the right act as if the Cold War is still going and McCarthy is hitting his prime. Is Stalinism the Republican defense against the injustices in the world today? I guess so. Stalin’s dictatorial counter-revolution against avid democracy was a revolution against Socialism, not for it. Those who want justice in this world know not to be cowed by the right. And yes, socialists will be among them.