A Russian Marxist Perspective on Current Affairs

99 ZU EINS

June 20, 2022


The Ukraine crisis and the connected repression of dissidents, make it difficult to talk to Russian Leftist Activists. Germany-based Podcast 99 ZU EINS reached out to a Marxist Writers collective, which, for reasons of safety, will remain anonymous here. In this interview, they examine the situation of the Left in Russia and provide their analysis of the conflict. This transcript is slightly edited for the sake of clarity. You can watch the full interview here.

 

Tell us about the historical development of the communist left in Russia since the fall of the USSR? What is the current state of the communist movement in Russia? And, without compromising your anonymity, where do you place yourself within the present landscape of the left?


Let’s start with the second question. As in all other countries of the former USSR, the Communist movement in Russia is at a study-group level. We have no genuine communist parties in our country now. There haven’t been any since the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) collapsed.


As for the first question about the evolution of the communist movement in post-Soviet Russia, after the CPSU’s demise only an empty cocoon was left, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). Over the next thirty years, the CRPF completely discredited itself by serving as the “left” hand of the ruling regime.


But though the Communist Party is gone, the demand for justice did not simply disappear. It takes many strange and schizophrenic forms, starting from red patriotic role-players and National-Bolsheviks to the social movements known as the “Essence of Time,” “For a New Socialism,” and “The National Liberation Movement.” And organizations other than the CPRF have emerged on the debris of the CPSU—for instance, the so-called Russian Communist Workers' Party (RCWP). Of all the CPSU’s successors, it has probably been the most critical of post-Soviet authorities.


Back in the 90s and early 2000s, the RCWP led massive strikes. but once the so-called “stability period” began those tailed off significantly. Indeed, the very impulse toward the organization of the masses diminished.


Alongside the CPSU’s successors, there were also minor organizations that emerged during the perestroika such as the Revolutionary Workers' Party (RWP). Roughly speaking, most of them appealed to activism. They handed out flyers at factories, repeating the practices of a century before. They largely neglected theoretical and ideological work. But these are all relics of the past, ghosts haunting an abandoned house, so to speak. The genuine progress of communist thought and the preparation of future intellectuals takes place either in political clubs and circles or through individual self-education.


At the turn of the previous decade, the Russian recognized that Marxist clubs were what was needed. But even here there is a great deal of disagreement. Lots of people just read well-known theoreticians and study basic ideas. They are not trying to update the theory. Only a few groups approach education consciously and develop deliberate courses of study. We might name two or three of them, including us. We consider ourselves as an intellectual journal in the end.


There is no strong workers’ movement in Rus