We consider being together on this platform of the ECI today as an important responsibility. Let me start with saying what can be said at the end, in the beginning: On the centenary of its foundation, the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics continues to illuminate our path. This is the truth despite dozens of counter-arguments, especially those fabricated in the second half of the twentieth century and in our century.
One of the most important parameters defining today’s world is the absence of the Soviet Union, or better said, the absence of a centre of gravity to lead humanity towards equality and freedom. What has happened in those years can help us to better understand what the USSR actually achieved for humanity. The wars based on nationalist conflicts in the former Soviet territory, which serve as a gameboard for imperialist competitions, are the consequences of the absence of fraternality among nations during the existence of the USSR. African countries that have surrendered to reactionary terrorism, destruction and obscurantism today, indicate us the lack of the ideas of independence, sovereignty and internationalism, which were inspired by the socialist state of the 20th century. The surrender of Afghanistan to the Taliban; the fact that the former and respected Soviet republics have been undermined by coloured revolutions and turned into puppet states, foreign dependent pawns of imperialism in the hands of incompetent rulers; or the current war on Ukrainian territory… Is it possible to interpret these developments, without considering their relationship with the fact that USSR no longer exists? Let’s move on with some other examples: If a number of so-called non-governmental organisations, foundations, etc. are trying to create equality indices regarding the social status of women, yet no meaningful progress can be made in this regard, except for a few rich – and somehow reactionary – women assuming certain ruling positions; if even in the most economically powerful countries, issues such as violence against women, the right to abortion, maternity rights or wage inequality remain unresolved, this is directly linked to the fact that the USSR, which made the greatest investment in gender equality and the creative potential of women, has disappeared from the stage of history. If the production of scientific knowledge is in the hands of a bunch of monopolies, if scientists have to choose between being exploited by these monopolies or being simple functionaries, and if, for example, in a period such as the Covid-19 pandemic that affected the whole world, we were desperately left to the mercy of some monopolies which “preserved” the vaccines with private patents, can we say that this is not a direct consequence of the absence of the USSR’s popular, internationalist, “universal health for all” approach? (Of course, saluting the achievements of Cuban scientists and health workers and remembering that they have set a brilliant example only confirms our words and does not prevent us from discussing why millions of lives were nevertheless lost).
The examples that I am giving are not to be considered as mere shortcuts. During its seventy years of existence, the USSR, with its concrete presence and the ideological axis it represented, left a great mark on the world, a mark which its enemies are still trying to erase. Therefore, it is our duty as its friends and followers, to voice out loud that its mark is unerasable.
It should not be a coincidence that in today’s darkness, some young people have been able to rediscover the USSR. Documentaries and films covering the history of the USSR and social media accounts describing daily life in the USSR have actually become quite extensive. We are not referring to the stories falsely told by today’s capitalist Russian state in order to legitimise itself by distorting the facts with a sauce of Russian nationalism. On the contrary, there is a growing curiosity about what was done during many difficult periods such as the Civil War, the collectivisation of agricultural production and the Second World War. The reason why young people, especially those under the age of 30, in the USA, in Europe, in Turkey, are interested in a state that disappeared even before they were born, or that they are at least not hostile to it despite all the anti-propaganda, is that socialism remains to be hopeful even without its concrete existence.
There are, of course, numerous reasons for this. The Soviet Union is proof that socialism can be established in a capitalist world, that a developed and equal society can be created. We do not only mean the steps taken in the direction of enlightenment, the fact that the whole society had a certain level of education, that cultural, artistic and sporting activities which were spread throughout the entire vastness of this country, and that they were no longer a luxury or an elite necessity but an ordinary aspect of daily life. It is hard not to compare the documentaries filmed in the 1970s describing daily life in the Soviet Union, the memoirs and books written, the pictures of Soviet men and women with their self-confident looks, and not to lament today’s arabesque, kitsch, lumpen world. Although more than thirty years have passed since its dissolution, the Soviet Union still represents the highest level in terms of the enrichment of human activity and the liberation of the human mind and body in history. But in addition, the experience of the USSR is full of lessons on how to cope with the practical difficulties of the process of socialist construction, the creation of a “new man” who works and produces, the organisation of workers and the creation of a collective social discipline. Some of these lessons are not generalisable examples, interventions that had to be short-lived or temporary, but, apart from the period leading up to the dissolution, each of those initiatives represent a very brave step forward. The Soviet Union did not have ready-made prescriptions at its disposal, but it had great leaders and citizens who fought with an absolute determination to solve problems in a revolutionary way, no matter how much they are vilified by today’s Western liberals.
Most importantly, the USSR, during the Great Patriotic War, proved the superiority of socialism over capitalism, with all its subjective and objective reasons, while it was still a young state, only slightly older than twenty years. Moreover, this was possible despite the fact that the Soviets lost millions of people, that all other development plans in the name of people’s wealth and prosperity had to be shifted to military area, and that they had to fight with hunger, cold and famine while shedding blood to defeat the enemies of humanity.
Naturally, it is not possible to say that this experience was absolutely free from mistakes and that everything done was legitimate. Indeed, we know that internal objective and subjective factors played as much or even more of a role in the collapse, as external factors. Unfortunately, the fact that the USSR allowed itself to be betrayed resulted in its irreversible disintegration. But the “hunt for mistakes” or “if only this/that was done otherwise” discourse while examining the history of the Soviet Union, is not learning from it. Such expressions of regret are not only unscientific from a methodological point of view, but they are also a sophisticated way of reflecting a deep-rooted hostility against this experience and does nothing but harm the socialist struggle. We will never do this, we will not tolerate it. In particular, we will never allow the working class rule to be defamed under the guise of “leftism”. We will confront attempts to label the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is bringing capitalist class down to its knees, as totalitarianism. We will stand against these defamations with countless examples of the capitalist barbarity.
We will continue to defend the USSR, to study it, to be proud of and to learn from these seventy years of tremendous experience, not with a useless sentiment of nostalgia but with our revolutionary faith. This shall be a task for communist parties that cannot be separated from daily struggle.
Proletarians of all countries, unite!