When I was a student of chemistry in college I did a lot of extracurricular reading about politics. I particularly read about the history of the Russian and Chinese revolutions. I read about Narodnaya Volya and their leaders like Sophia Perovskaya, Zhelyabov, Mikhailov and others and their eventually successful attempts to assassinate Czar Alexander II. Stepan Khalturin, working under the cover of a carpenter, blew up part of the Winter Palace, but had failed to kill the Czar.
I know how hard and long Lenin worked in his hotel rooms in Switzerland and London to bring about the Bolshevik revolution, along with his early comrades like Martov, Vera Zasulich, Axelrod and Plekhanov. They smuggled thousands of copies of Iskra or the Spark, a revolutionary newspaper, into Russia. Vera Zasulich was a very interesting woman. She shot the Governor of St. Petersburg, Trepov, for flogging severely a revolutionary comrade named Bogolyubov, who had failed to tip his hat to Trepov. She escaped from Russia. Two very important men, Trotsky and Stalin joined the revolution. Later, gold shipments were robbed to finance the revolution.
They had an unsuccessful revolution in 1905, after the disillusionment of the Russian people over the Russo-Japanese war, and St. Petersburg was taken over and worker’s councils or Soviets were established under the leadership of Leon Trotsky. The railway workers went on strike and there were disturbances elsewhere, but Czar Nicholas II agreed to a Duma and certain reforms and the revolution fizzled out. However, the revolution in 1917 succeeded, as the Russian soldiers at the front with the Germans were totally demoralized, lacking basic supplies like boots and overcoats and ready for revolt.
I remember the Long March in China and how the Red Army marched for thousands of miles through all manner of difficult terrain to get to their base in northwest China. The revolutionaries in both China and Russia gained great popular support by advocating for the rights of women and peasants. In China a landlord would not only get most of the peasant’s crop, but the peasant was taxed heavily, also. I remember ridiculous taxes these landlords invented like “vegetables drying on the roof tax.” The Chinese landlords would, also, take the daughters of the peasants as concubines. One landlord had over one thousand such concubines.
The Red Army would take the land from the landlords and divide it among the peasants, abolish any taxes and free the concubines from the landlords. Only landlords who had been kind to their peasants were allowed to live. They advocated for the rights of women. This won them enormous popular support; enough popular support to defeat not only the Japanese, who had invaded the country, but also Chiang Kai Shek’s reactionary and US-supported army. I remember reading the biography of a man named Zhou De, although at that time his name was pronounced Chu Teh. He was nearly as important as Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai in the communist victory, both of whom have also had name changes. They once were called Mao Tse Tung and Chou En Lai.
I recall the debate between Stalin and Trotsky over whether a socialist revolution needed to be worldwide in scope to succeed, or if one country after another could follow the socialist path. Considering the large number of socialist revolutions, which the superpower capitalist nation, the United States, has destroyed, it would seem that a successful socialist world could be attained only by world-wide revolution. Still Cuba hung on to socialism, despite the US embargo and sabotage of factories, and Che Guevara went to Africa and then South America to see if socialist revolutions could succeed there. He was assassinated by the CIA in Bolivia. Bolivia has recently elected a socialist President, Evo Morales and Venezuela has a very courageous socialist leader, Hugo Chavez, who has done so many things that fiercely aggravate American capitalists that I am a amazed his country has not been invaded. Maybe, the CIA is taking the coup or sabotage of the economy route, which is less public and does not involve American casualties in war.
Both the Soviet Union and China promoted women’s rights after the revolution. I remember when I went to the university library to look up references in chemistry, how many Soviet women scientists were listed there in reference books. Then, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman astronaut. Russian women excelled at the Olympic Games. I studied Russian as well as German in college, as the Soviet Union was so important in science. The palaces and other structures of the Czar were preserved and not destroyed. They became museums for the people. I thought mistakenly like Che Guevara that socialist revolutions would occur in all countries, particularly after Vietnam. Now comes the paradox.
Isn’t it an ironic bit of history that the largest anti-imperialist force in the world today is a reactionary army and not a people’s army. They are fiercely against women’s rights and unlike the Red Army in Russia, which preserved ancient cultural monuments, the Taliban blew up huge Buddhist sculptures in the mountainsides of Afghanistan. Yet the Taliban seem to be giving the forces of both NATO and the United States a tremendous amount of resistance against the American goal of controlling the oil of the Middle East. Afghanistan had a socialist government before the Soviet Union ever invaded the country. The CIA trained these reactionary tribesmen in madrassas in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and sent them into Afghanistan to overthrow the socialist government. Since Afghanistan was still a backward country and women’s rights, which the socialist government tried to promulgate, were not popular, the predecessors of the Taliban gained the advantage militarily and the Soviet Union invaded to save the socialist government in Kabul. Then, the United States intervened in a big way sending the most modern arms it had, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, to this anti-socialist, superstitious, backward army and they drove the Soviet Union out, killed all socialist leaders and established a very repressive society, especially toward women. The only problem was this army was as anti-American as it was anti-Soviet and was very nationalistic. There were factions among the different ethnic groups fighting one another for power, and it gave the United States the perfect excuse after 9-11 to invade the country.
Afghanistan is an ideal location for an oil or gas pipeline from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean. An invasion had been contemplated long before 9-11. A book called The Forbidden Truth by two French authors named Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie tells the story of the planned pipeline. Osama bin Laden was the perfect bogeyman to give them an excuse to invade Afghanistan. Capturing a man who needs kidney dialysis is an international police operation and not a military operation and can’t be that hard to accomplish. Osama bin Laden was just useful to inspire fear in the American people and get them to accept all these wars for empire and for oil and to accept all the pernicious justifications for these wars, or as they are commonly called, damn lies.
Consequently, I have such mixed feelings about the Taliban. They are tying down an American army that if not busy there, would probably be overthrowing socialist governments in Latin America. They are preventing American hegemony over the Middle East and frustrating American capitalists’ attempts to control the oil of Central Asia. On the other hand, they are religious fanatics who fiercely oppose women’s rights and blow up Buddhist monuments. It is a strange world indeed when it is not a Marxist army which is frustrating capitalists’ dreams of empire, but a group of Islamic fanatics that they themselves created.
I read a report from Jeremy Scahill that implicates Erik Prince, the creator of the mercenary army called Blackwater, involved in both Iraq and Afghanistan, in all sorts of criminal activity, including murder of people investigating his corporation. There is a lawsuit in eastern Virginia brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of the Iraqi people murdered by Blackwater. The two prime witnesses are Blackwater employees, anonymous for their own safety. These employees claim that Erik Prince desired to destroy the Islamic religion totally and that is why he created Blackwater. I read today that the two witnesses testified that Blackwater used child prostitutes in Iraq. Erik Prince is the son of a very rich man in Michigan, a former Navy Seal, and a fundamentalist Christian in the mold of Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson.
It is abominable to think of trying to destroy another religion. It is a crime of colossal proportions to try to destroy all adherents to that religion. That is what Hitler tried to do with the Jews. Erik Prince induces empathy for Islam in me because I know not all Muslims are like the Taliban, anymore than all Christians are like Erik Prince. Maybe, there are more secular and progressive people fighting the Americans, and the corporate media simply label them all as Taliban. Surely, if a predator drone blew up one’s family, one would not need to be religious at all to seek revenge. These predator drones are going to create such anger at the United States. If these geniuses in Nevada, who guide these remorseless killers, think they are hitting the right house every time and not killing innocent people, they are technologically advanced fools. Even if Taliban are killed, it is an unwinnable, immoral, illegal and costly war in terms of human lives. Also, the billions of dollars spent on this foolishness would be better spent on making the world better, instead of a lot worse.
It is a strange world that I never conceived when the world’s largest anti-imperialist army fighting US imperialism is a reactionary, fundamentalist Islamic army and when leftist leaders like Evo Morales, Raphael Correa, Hugo Chavez and Jean Bertrand Aristide come to power through elections rather than revolutions, despite US power and huge amounts of corporate propaganda. The United States rapidly deposed Aristide in Haiti, but the others still survive. I never foresaw the Soviet Union’s dissolution or the Russian people ever allowing themselves to undergo “shock therapy.” China inviting multinational corporations into an ostensibly communist country was a complete surprise. My crystal ball must be broken. Possibly it is only one step forward and two or three backwards. I don’t think we have time for any more backward steps, however. The environment and the world economy are in simply too precarious a situation.