25-26 December 1991 form a turning point in modern history. Those days witnessed the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the state born of the Great October Revolution of 1917. Apart from the fleeting reign of the Paris Commune for 72 days in 1871, this was the first revolution that abolished the capital relationship and thereby established the first workers’ state. The entire world situation throughout the 20th century, not only in Russia but also all around the world, was determined by the existence of this state, whose position was, at least theoretically, fortified by other victorious revolutions within and after World War II. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, along with capitalist restoration in most of the other post-revolutionary societies, dealt a serious blow to the aspiration for collectivist, communist, socialist solutions to problems that the working classes and, for that matter humanity at large, faced in an age of capitalist decline. The international socialist-communist movement has still not recovered from the shock. So we need to dwell on the processes that eroded the bases of the workers’ states and in particular the USSR and answer the question “why?”. This is necessary both for convincing once again the younger generations of the emancipatory power of socialism and Marxism and also for displaying correct helmsmanship when the opportunity for the working classes to take state power in this 21st century presents itself. This opportunity will surely come. What is important is to be ready for it by studying the pitfalls of the past and learning from them. That is why, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the dissolution of the USSR, for several days we will publish articles and statements by parties and their leaders from Russia and elsewhere to commemorate but also to learn from the Soviet experience.
The first two pieces that we are publishing today are both from Russia itself. Iosif Grigorievitch Abramson is a Soviet communist who has lived through the greater part of the history of the Soviet state and is now one of the leaders of the Russian Party of Communists. He is here writing his assessment, precisely on the thirtieth anniversary of its dissolution, his outlook on why, on the basis of what objective and subjective factors, the Soviet experience collapsed.
The second piece is a statement published by the United Communist Party (OKP in its Russian acronym) directly on the legal and political aspects of the act of dissolution, accusing in no uncertain terms the restorationists of the manipulation of the rules and of the will to destroy the Soviet Union.
The OKP, as well as the RPK, are sister parties for RedMed under the umbrella of the International Christian Rakovski Center.
Destruction of the Soviet Union: A crime without statute of limitations
Statement of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the United Communist Party of Russia (OKP) in connection with the 30th anniversary of the unconstitutional liquidation of the USSR in December 1991.
In December 1991, the largest state on the planet, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the first ever socialist state of workers and peasants, disappeared from the political map of the world.
In the context of the general crisis of Gorbachev’s “perestroika” policy, few people paid attention to the blatant violation of all conceivable and inconceivable constitutional procedures during the “dissolution” of the united socialist homeland. In its swiftness, it resembled either the shameful flight from the sinking ship of the completely bankrupt political elite of the “perestroika-reformers” headed by President Gorbachev, or the finale of a carefully planned action designed to put an end to the history of Soviet socialism, which was played out like clockwork before the eyes of the disoriented and disorganized Soviet people.
There is no doubt that at the time of the proclamation of “perestroika,” Soviet society needed changes, but at every turn the rational renewal of the country on the basis of socialism was opposed by voluntarist innovations in the spirit of the convergence of the socialist and capitalist systems. Thus, instead of scientifically grounded improvement of the Soviet command-distribution planning system, experiments were imposed on society to introduce capitalist market mechanisms into the socialist economy with the orientation of the entire national economic complex of the country towards the priority of profit, and, consequently, the formation of a system of consumer relations. This, in turn, created fertile ground for manifestations of individual and collective egoism, the shadow economy, the social differentiation of Soviet society — shameful social phenomena that discredited Soviet socialism in the eyes of the working people. Obvious failures in the ideological sphere and the transformation of the ruling Communist Party of Soviet Union from the political vanguard of society into a bureaucratic mechanism of government led to the depoliticization of communists and non-party people, to people’s disbelief in the proclaimed slogans and ideals, and contributed to the growth of social apathy and cynicism.
Taken together, the above circumstances and phenomena contributed to the formation of conditions for internal counterrevolution, expanded its social base, thereby facilitating the subversive activities of the forces of international reaction and anti-communism against the USSR and the socialist bloc. The policy of “perestroika,” designed to eradicate these tendencies according to Gorbachev’s assurances, carried out without a proper systematic approach, by the empirical method of trial and error, quickly moved from the stage of renewal of socialism to its actual dismantling. The events of August 1991 removed the last barriers to the forces that openly advocated the elimination of the socialist system and the Soviet Union itself, which makes us speak not so much about the spontaneous disintegration of the system, but about completely controlled and clearly coordinated processes.
It is important to recall an extremely important circumstance, which proves in the most irrefutable way that the liquidation of the USSR was neither a historical accident, nor a natural consequence of the economic “bankruptcy of the system,” as both “systemic” and “non-systemic” liberals like to say today. At the time of the signing of the unconstitutional “Belovezh Accords” [Dec. 8, 1991] and the resignation of Soviet President Gorbachev, practically all the top political and military leaders of the USSR were in the “Matrosskaya Tishina” pre-trial detention center facing charges in the case of the so-called “State Emergency Committee.” [This refers to the failed August 1991 attempt to block the counterrevolution by administrative measures.] In their absence, the entire operational leadership of the largest state on the planet passed to the “Russian center” in the person of President of the RSFSR Yeltsin and the leaders of the “democratic” Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR, which from the standpoint both of the the law and common sense was more like a creeping coup d’etat. The purpose of the latter was the final usurpation of the highest power in the RSFSR by the “group” of President Yeltsin, who by that time had entered into an open conspiracy with the national-separatist forces, which had seized key leadership posts in most of the union republics of the USSR.
No less strange and clearly contrary to common sense was the very justification by the president of the Soviet Union of his own decree to resign from his high powers: “Due to the current situation with the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States.” This wording was voiced in Gorbachev’s address to the nation on Dec. 25, 1991, that is, exactly 17 days after the separatist “Belovezh” conspiracy between the heads of three subjects of the USSR [Russia, Ukraine and Belarus], as a result of which its participants announced the “termination” of the 1922 Treaty on the Formation of the USSR. And this despite the fact that the USSR was founded by at least four subjects, not three, and since the adoption of the first Constitution of the USSR in 1924, the Treaty on the Formation of the USSR ceased to be an independent legal document, becoming an integral part of the Basic Law of the Union State (that is, in the “Belovezh” putsch, a document that had no direct legal force for a long time was “terminated”).
But more importantly, the actions of the three “Belovezh” signatories grossly contradicted the results of the March 1991 referendum on the preservation of the USSR, in which 76.4% of citizens strongly supported the preservation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. However, despite this, Gorbachev chose to “wash his hands” and not darken the celebration of the “victors” – on the afternoon of Dec. 25 (before Gorbachev’s announcement of resignation) at a meeting of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR, Yeltsin’s henchmen pushed through the decision to remove from the official name of Soviet Russia the reference to soviets, the socialist nature of its socio-political system, and in the evening, just 38 minutes (!) after Gorbachev’s statement, the state flag of the Soviet Union was hastily lowered from the main flagpole of the Kremlin, replaced by the “democratic” counterrevolutionary tricolor.
The Presidium of the Central Committee of the United Communist Party is convinced that such actions could not be the result of a historical “accident,” just as they were not historically inevitable, of which both the direct initiators and ordinary pogromists of the USSR are trying to convince us. The deliberate, primitive anti-Sovietism, which has long since set the teeth on edge, which even thirty years after the liquidation of Soviet socialism and the USSR regularly breaks through in the speeches of the main plenipotentiary representatives of the ruling political class in the country, best refutes any fabrications by opponents of the Soviet project about its alleged historical failure. In conditions when, according to most of the main development indicators – from the economy to culture to healthcare — the present “post-Soviet” Russia, as well as any other former republics of the Union, have not reached the level of the last year of the existence of the USSR, such fabrications of the current “effective managers” cannot be explained by anything other than a political inferiority complex. That is why their complex is now and then compensated for either by strictly dosed state anti-Sovietism and anti-communism, or – when it is politically expedient — by the cynical flirtation of representatives of the oligarchic regime with symbols of the great Soviet past.
The Presidium of the Central Committee of the OKP, noting the unconditional positive shift in public sentiment in Russia towards leftist ideas, the Soviet project and the USSR, at the same time strongly disagrees with the attempt to turn such symbols and ideas into harmless icons to comfort the exploited. We are convinced that just as the very creation of the Soviet Union was the result of a real correlation of social and class forces of a particular historical period, so its potential for revival will also be due solely to the real struggle for the socialist reorganization of reality, which will be waged by the working masses themselves, both in today’s Russia, and in any other now separated “post-Soviet” country.
The history of the destruction of Soviet statehood and the USSR, which ended exactly thirty years ago with the signing of the criminal “Belovezh Accords” and the no less criminal stance of President Gorbachev, is the clearest proof that one material force can be overturned only by a force similar to it, while law or constitution is nothing more than a reflection of the will of this or that ruling class in society. Exactly thirty years ago, in December 1991, such a force was on the side of the liquidators of the USSR and, as such, the subsequent denunciation (termination) of the “Belovezh” conspiracy, undertaken by the parliamentary opposition majority of the State Duma of the Russian Federation in March 1996, did not and could not change such an anti-socialist balance of forces in Russia or any other “post-Soviet” republic.
The era begun by the criminal demolition of the Soviet Union has been going on for three decades, and it can only be interrupted by a radical change in the balance of forces in modern Russian society. However, such a change is clearly not achieved by the mere “return” of Soviet passports or even “Soviet citizenship” alone. That is why the first step towards a real revival of the USSR is the return of property and power to the hands of the working majority in each of the states of the once united socialist space, the Sovietization and socialization of these states as a decisive condition for the new socialist integration of peoples.
The USSR is the future, but we need to fight for this future today!
Vladimir Lakeev, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the United Communist Party
Translated by Greg Butterfield