It was thirty-two years ago, on December 26, 1991, when the red flag with the sickle and hammer was lowered from the Kremlin.
It was then, during the cold days of December, when the first socialist state of the world, the homeland of the world’s proletariat, bent under the weight of the counterrevolution. Four days before, on December 22nd, the leaderships of three of the largest Soviet republics had decided the dissolution of the USSR, while the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) had been outlawed on summer of the same year.
The events of December 1991 didn’t come as a surprise. The forces of opportunism had already dominated the CPSU in the 1980s. It was a process which officially began in 1985 with Perestroika and reached its peak in 1989-1991. However, the roots of the counterrevolution can be traced back, in a series of revisionist-opportunist decisions taken at the CPSU’s 20th Congress in 1956.
In December 1991, the homeland of the heroic bolsheviks, the homeland of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, the homeland of General Zhukov, Yuri Gagarin and Dmitri Shostakovitch, the homeland of the Soviet people became loot in the hands of the Russian bourgeoisie, of the oligarchs who emerged from the leadership of Perestroika. Even the opinion of the Soviet people (in the referendum of March 17, 1991, 76% of the voters supported the existence of the USSR) was blatantly ignored by the perpetrators of the counterrevolution.
The immense social achievements of the USSR were succeeded by illusory promises by the new capitalist Russian government for- supposedly- more democracy, for more social freedoms and for a free-market economy which would improve the people’s lives. The so-called “shock therapy”, which included several policies of economic liberalization during the 90s, had multiple negative effects in people’s lives: rapid increase of social inequalities, destruction of the socialist welfare state, extreme increase of poverty for the working class, decrease of the life expectancy rate, resurgence of nationalist claims between former soviet republics and the emergence of economic oligarchs as actual rulers of the new capitalist Russian state.
Three decades after the counterrevolution in the USSR, the majority of the Russian people- especially the older generations- think that life under Socialism was better. The restoration of Capitalism brought an unprecedented barbarity in almost every sector of public life; a barbarity which benefited the few and aggravated the situation for the majority.
“The Soviet red flag is no longer waving in the domes of the Kremlin. Its lowering sealed with a dramatic and symbolical way the end of the 74-year old course of the first socialist state in the world. For a moment the clocks indicators remained motionless, marking the critical moment. The hearts of many million workers in all over the world stopped beating, weighting the magnitude of the loses”.
– Rizospastis daily (KKE newspaper), 28 December 1991.
Back in 2013, a survey by Russia’s Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) had indicated that 60% of Russians think that the life in the Soviet Union had more positive than negative aspects.
The same kind of nostalgia for the USSR exists also in other former Soviet republics, like Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan etc, where the policies of monopoly capitalism have swept away any social privileges achieved by the working class people during Socialism.
The various apologists of capitalism, who advocated the famous concept of the “End of History” in the beginning of the 90s, have already been refuted. Despite the fact that the counterrevolutionary events in the USSR and Eastern Europe significantly deteriorated the correlation of forces internationally, it becomes clear that Socialism is relevant and necessary. The impasses of rotten capitalism, which creates crises, poverty, unemployment, misery and wars, consist a solid proof that nothing has end.
The people, the working class in all over the world must organize their counter-attack, to strengthen the bastions of resistance against capitalist exploitation and imperialist barbarity and create the preconditions for the ultimate victory of Socialism.
No, History did not end in December 1991. The red flag, with the sickle and hammer, will rise again.
* Nikos Mottas is the Editor-in-Chief of In Defense of Communism.
The article was written on the 30th anniversary of the USSR’s dissolution in 2021