Friday, October 20, 2017

Notes on the World Socialist Movement from the Soviet Union to the Bolivarian Republic
A century of struggle against world capitalism and imperialism

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Published on October 20, 2017

Note: These remarks were prepared and delivered in part for a class with youth comrades and ranking stalwarts on Sun. Sept. 24, 2017 in Detroit, Michgian. The presentation is divided into four sections covering: The Material Basis for Socialist Revolution; A Survey of Socialist Revolutions internationally; National Liberation and Gender Emancipation; and the Role of Socialists in North America.

I. The Material Basis for Socialist Revolution

Socialism prior to the advent of the writing and activities of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels during the 1840s was shrouded in idealism and utopian visions of a better world. In Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, published by Engels in 1880, the writer reviews the history of socialist thought and concludes that the economic mode of production and social relations created by the advent of industrial capitalism provided the material basis for the realization of a socialist society, where the workers had the potential to control the conditions under which they toiled and lived.

There is the transformation from slavery to feudalism giving rise to mercantilism and capitalism through the mass production of commodities resulting in a further globalization of labor and resource exploitation along with international trade. Nonetheless, the unplanned character of capitalist production results in recurrent crises of overproduction and hence economic downturns which render large segments of the workforce idle.

Yet the organizational character of the capitalist production system creates a large disciplined working class which through its own experiences and the development of consciousness of its being lays the basis for the overthrow of the exploitative system and the realization of a just and egalitarian society. As in previous epochs of economic systems such as communalism, slavery and feudalism, capitalism eventually outlives its capacity to grow and develop. Henceforth, through a process of conscious organization and mobilization of the workers and the oppressed through a revolutionary party, the masses are able to remove the capitalist ruling class and the state apparatus which reflects its dominance and move toward establishment of Scientific Socialism.
Engels notes in the last section of Socialism: Utopian and Scientific that the resolution of these contradictions within human history can only be found in the conscious movement of the workers and oppressed.

The writer says:
“Proletarian Revolution — Solution of the contradictions. The proletariat seizes the public power, and by means of this transforms the socialized means of production, slipping from the hands of the bourgeoisie, into public property. By this act, the proletariat frees the means of production from the character of capital they have thus far borne, and gives their socialized character complete freedom to work itself out. Socialized production upon a predetermined plan becomes henceforth possible. The development of production makes the existence of different classes of society thenceforth an anachronism. In proportion as anarchy in social production vanishes, the political authority of the State dies out. Man (and woman), at last the master of his (her) own form of social organization, becomes at the same time the lord over Nature, his own master — free. To accomplish this act of universal emancipation is the historical mission of the modern proletariat. To thoroughly comprehend the historical conditions and this the very nature of this act, to impart to the now oppressed proletarian class a full knowledge of the conditions and of the meaning of the momentous act it is called upon to accomplish, this is the task of the theoretical expression of the proletarian movement, Scientific Socialism.” (
With respect to the material basis for national revolutionary and socialist revolutions in non-industrialized colonies and semi-colonies, there are the observations of the Communist Party of China (CPC) during the 1930s when they fought against the historic role of British, French and Japanese imperialist powers. China was a largely rural society with the peasantry constituting the overwhelming majority of the population.

These occupations were carried out by military conquest and the imposition of treaties which facilitated the exploitation of the Chinese people also prompted the introduction of capitalist methods of private accumulation. Mao Tse-tung and other Communists wrote in 1939 saying: “The imperialist powers operate many enterprises in both light and heavy industry in China in order to utilize her raw materials and cheap labor on the spot, and they thereby directly exert economic pressure on China's national industry and obstruct the development of her productive forces.” (

Even though the industrial proletariat did not make up a large segment of the people, the Chinese nation as a whole was exploited in the process of colonial occupation. In order to sustain and reproduce the system of colonialism and semi-colonialism a comprador bourgeoisie arose to serve the interests of the imperialists. These junior partners of the foreign-based occupation forces were encouraged to adopt alien lifestyles and values through education both at home and abroad along with the acquisition of the trappings of a consumer culture fostered by the colonialists.

Although the proletariat in China at the conclusion of the 1930s accounted for less than one percent of the population, the Communist Party views this class as the vanguard of the revolution. The leadership role of the working class is essential in the ultimate defeat of foreign occupation and the construction of a socialist society.

Mao and the Chinese Communist Party notes that: “First, the Chinese proletariat is more resolute and thoroughgoing in revolutionary struggle than any other class because it is subjected to a threefold oppression (imperialist, bourgeois and feudal) which is marked by a severity and cruelty seldom found in other countries. Since there is no economic basis for social reformism in colonial and semi-colonial China as there is in Europe, the whole proletariat, with the exception of a few scabs, is most revolutionary. Secondly, from the moment it appeared on the revolutionary scene, the Chinese proletariat came under the leadership of its own revolutionary party--the Communist Party of China--and became the most politically conscious class in Chinese society. Thirdly, because the Chinese proletariat by origin is largely made up of bankrupted peasants, it has natural ties with the peasant masses, which facilitates its forming a close alliance with them. Therefore, in spite of certain unavoidable weaknesses, for instance, its smallness (as compared with the peasantry), its youth (as compared with the proletariat in the capitalist countries) and its low educational level (as compared with the bourgeoisie), the Chinese proletariat is nonetheless the basic motive force of the Chinese revolution. Unless it is led by the proletariat, the Chinese revolution cannot possibly succeed.”

The links between the peasantry and the proletariat was a key element in the organization and mobilization of the masses in Africa as well. In the Union (1910-1960) and later Republic of South Africa after 1961, many Africans living in the rural areas suffered from forced removals, economic super-exploitation through the agricultural system which rendered many to the level of an agricultural proletariat. Millions were forced off the land due to the demands of the burgeoning mechanization of agricultural production through large-scale corporate farms that robbed Africans of any semblance of subsistence.
Govan Mbeki, a leading figure in the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) published a groundbreaking study in 1964 entitled “The Peasant Revolt.” Mbeki systematically chronicles a series of mass protests and violent rebellions among the rural populations throughout a cross-section of African nationalities which stemmed directly from the European settler-colonial system of apartheid.

Chapter 8 of the Peasant’s Revolt entitled “Chiefs in the Saddle: Transkei Test Case”, Mbeki observes how: “The deterioration of the peasant economy has reached a dangerous point. The decline in productivity and the absence of local industries have forced increasing numbers of peasants on to the labor market, while the general economy has not expanded sufficiently to absorb the landless army of peasants. The migration to the towns has given rise to appalling slums, while far worse, from the government point of view, has been the incompatibility between the steep rise in urban African population (over one million between 1951 and 1960) and its professed aim of separate development.” (

This same writer continues saying: “It was obvious, and the Tomlinson Report so recommended, that something would have to be done to arrest the deterioration in the reserves. The government began by implementing proposals that had been put forward as far back as 1945 under the title of ‘a new era of Reclamation’. This envisaged the removal of landless peasants to towns or urban settlements within the reserves, whose residents would depend on wages earned by men employed either in local industries or in the big towns. Peasants who remained on the land would be expected to farm under supervision on so-called ‘economic plots’ of about eight acres each. Grazing and cultivated land would be controlled. These measures inevitably antagonized the peasants, who were suspicious of any interference by a hostile authority in their traditional way of life. Above all, those who were being pushed off the land were bitterly resentful. They forfeited the right to graze stock and had to abandon the one form of security to which they clung — the occupation of an arable plot with the right to share the common pasturage.”

Therefore, the worsening conditions of the peasantry and rural proletariat through the seizure of their lands, the impoverishment of the people as a result of the imposition of an increasing capitalistic methods of agricultural production and the forcing of people into the urban areas provides a social basis for the recruitment and organization of greater numbers into the revolutionary liberation movements and communist parties.   

II. A Survey of Socialist Revolutions:
--The USSR
--Socialism in East Asia
-- Socialism in Eastern and Central Europe
-- Socialism in Africa
--Socialism in West Asia
--Socialism in Latin America

The Russian Revolution and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) From 1917-1991

This year represents the centenary of the Russian Bolshevik Revolution of October (November) 1917. Our approach to the advent of socialism in Russia, the USSR and other geo-political regions from Asia, Africa to Latin America, will be approached from the standpoint of public policy. Future classes can examine the social dynamics surrounding the revolutionary process and the role of various political parties, liberation movements and individuals within the transformative process.

After the seizure of power by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, concrete measures were enacted which distinguish the political system from capitalism. After the February 1917 Revolution, a social democratic regime took power which maintained capitalist property relations and continued Russian involvement in World War I.

In the immediate aftermath of the taking of state power, the Bolshevik government withdrew its military forces from first imperialist war (World War I). A treaty was signed with the Central powers, Brest-Litovsk, on March 3, 1918, ceding territory and claims to Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire.

The Bolsheviks changed their name from the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP-B) to the Communist Party. Almost immediately the country was plunged into a civil war between the communists and an alliance of monarchists, socialist revolutionaries and capitalists. The heaviest battles of the civil war were fought between the Red Army of the Communist Party and the White Army representing the anti-Bolshevik elements.

Counter-revolutionaries in Russia were backed in an invasion of the country by the armed forces from various imperialist states including Britain, France, Japan and the U.S. The fighting raged from 1918 to 1921. Recognizing the futility of the situation militarily, the imperialist states began to withdraw their forces as early as 1919 allowing for the eventual consolidation and expansion of territory held by the Russian Soviet government in Moscow. 

By 1921, the Communists had largely defeated their enemies although fighting continued in the peripheries for an additional two years. Estimates indicate that more than a million deaths occurred in the war many of whom were civilians.

During the civil war the economic policy has been described as “War Communism.” It was a command structure where the Communist Party members effectively managed the nationalized plants and agricultural production.

By December 1922, an agreement was signed for the creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The USSR was initially a confederation of Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine, and the Transcaucasian Federation (divided in 1936 into the Georgian, Azerbaijan, and Armenian republics).  Eventually, the USSR encompassed 15 republics–Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Belorussia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

After the conclusion of the civil war the New Economic Policy (NEP) came into existence. This represented a retreat from strict communist planning and implementation by decree.
In a document by V.I. Lenin entitled: “The New Economic Policy and The Tasks of The Political Education Departments, Report to the Second All-Russia Congress of Political Education Departments, October 17, 1921”, the leader of the Soviet Union states emphatically:
“The New Economic Policy means substituting a tax for the requisitioning of food; it means reverting to capitalism to a considerable extent—to what extent we do not know. Concessions to foreign capitalists (true, only very few have been accepted, especially when compared with the number we have offered) and leasing enterprises to private capitalists definitely mean restoring capitalism, and this is part and parcel of the New Economic Policy; for the abolition of the surplus-food appropriation system means allowing the peasants to trade freely in their surplus agricultural produce, in whatever is left over after the tax is collected—and the tax takes only a small share of that produce. The peasants constitute a huge section of our population and of our entire economy, and that is why capitalism must grow out of this soil of free trading.” (

However, Lenin points out that the Communist Party must maintain control of the process of the restoration of some capitalist methods of economic policy. If this does not succeed then the struggle for socialism will fail.

Lenin says in this regard: “The whole question is who will take the lead. We must face this issue squarely—who will come out on top? Either the capitalists succeed in organizing first—in which case they will drive out the Communists and that will be the end of it. Or the proletarian state power, with the support of the peasantry, will prove capable of keeping a proper rein on those gentlemen, the capitalists, so as to direct capitalism along state channels and to create a capitalism that will be subordinate to the state and serve the state.”

He goes on to observe: “The dictatorship of the proletariat is fierce war. The proletariat has been victorious in one country, but it is still weak internationally. It must unite all the workers and peasants around itself in the knowledge that the war is not over. Although in our anthem we sing: ‘The last fight let us face,’ unfortunately it is not quite true; it is not our last fight. Either you succeed in uniting the workers and peasants in this fight, or you fail to achieve victory. Never before in history has there been a struggle like the one we are now witnesses of; but there have been wars between peasants and landowners more than once in history, ever since the earliest times of slavery. Such wars have occurred more than once; but there has never been a war waged by a government against the bourgeoisie of its own country and against the united bourgeoisie of all countries.”

As it relates to the objectives of achieving communism within the Soviet Union, Lenin soberly notes: “We must not count on going straight to communism. We must build on the basis of peasants’ personal incentive. We are told that the personal incentive of the peasants means restoring private property. But we have never interfered with personally owned articles of consumption and implements of production as far as the peasants are concerned. We have abolished private ownership of land. Peasants farmed land that they did not own—rented land, for instance. That system exists in very many countries. There is nothing impossible about it from the standpoint of economics. The difficulty lies in creating personal incentives. We must also give every specialist an incentive to develop our industry. Have we been able to do that? No, we have not! We thought that production and distribution would go on at communist bidding in a country with a declassed proletariat. We must change that now, or we shall be unable to make the proletariat understand this process of transition. No such problems have ever arisen in history before. We tried to solve this problem straight out, by a frontal attack, as it were, but we suffered defeat. Such mistakes occur in every war, and they are not even regarded as mistakes. Since the frontal attack failed, we shall make a flanking movement and also use the method of siege and undermining.”

These statements taken from Lenin’s report represent the dilemma of socialist construction in a single country. It is this observation which in part gave rise to differences between various factions within the Communist Party. The manifestations of these differences were resolved in many cases violently with the expulsion of the forces surrounding Leon Trotsky in 1927 and the later purges in the 1930s involving Zinoviev, Kamenev, Badek and Bukharin. 

Also some leading Soviet Red Army officials were accused of disloyalty and sympathies towards fascism.  Many were purged and executed during the late 1930s.
However, the official Soviet historical accounts suggest that during this same period socialism was consolidated within the USSR with the elimination of unemployment, homelessness and other problems associated with capitalism. The Soviet Union played the leading role in the fight against Fascist Germany after it invaded the country in the early 1940s.

The USSR provided a model for other working and oppressed people in their struggle against capitalism and imperialism. Communist parties were formed in both the industrialized capitalist states of the West as well as the colonial and semi-colonial territories in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

With the rise of Communist parties in underdeveloped regions of the world inevitably the historical experiences of non-European peoples were brought into a renewed evaluation of Socialism and Communism through the ideological prism of Marxism-Leninism. As was the situation with the Russian Soviet Revolutions as well, which occurred in relatively weak capitalist and feudal states, where the majority of the people were within the class of peasants.

Socialism in East Asia: Vietnam, Korea and China (1945-1954)

France had conquered Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the late 19th century under the guise of bringing civilization to whom they referred to as the Indochinese people. Resistance movements sprang up over the course of the late 19th and early decades of the 20th century.

In 1925, the Vietnamese Revolutionary Youth League was formed with the Communist Youth League, led by the man who became known as Ho Chi Minh, playing an integral role. By 1929-30, the Vietnamese Communist Party, soon known as the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP), was formed.
By 1941, the League for the Independence of Vietnam (Vietminh) was reactivated by the ICP to fight both French and Japanese imperialism.  After the March 1945 Japanese coup against the French colonial administration in Vietnam collapsed, the Vietminh and the renamed Communist Party of Vietnam declared the country independent.

France, backed by the United States, sought to maintain French colonial rule in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam based in Hanoi and to prevent a national referendum on unifying the Northern and Southern regions of the country. A failed attempt at negotiations in 1945-46 led to a revolutionary war during the period of 1946-1954. Paris suffered a humiliating defeat at Dien Bien Phu from March to May 1954.

The French imperialists were forced to negotiate a settlement after their positions were overrun and thousands of their troops killed and captured by the Vietminh. During the following years of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the U.S. took over the French colonial role in the South. Starting in 1961, President John F. Kennedy began to deploy Pentagon “advisors” to South Vietnam and by the time of his assassination on November 22, 1963, thousands of American troops were stationed in the country.

Beginning in 1965, the-then U.S. President Lyndon Johnson deployed hundreds of thousands of Pentagon troops. Johnson later ordered the “secret” bombing of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the North.

After the defeat of French imperialism in 1954, the DRV maintained its sovereignty as a socialist-oriented state. When U.S. military forces completely withdrew from South Vietnam in April 1975 following their defeat after two decades of war, the People’s Revolutionary Party and Army, which provided leadership within the National Liberation Front (Vietcong) in the South and the DRV united the country and organizations into the Vietnamese Communist Party once again.

Since the 1990s, the leadership body of the Vietnamese Communist Party, the National Congress, has described its present state as a “Socialist-oriented Market Economy.” The Party maintains that the state is dominant even within the private sector.

Now known as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Southeast Asian nation has undergone rapid economic growth and development over the last forty years. Its economy has emerged as a significant player in the Asian and global situation.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (1948-2017)

There has been much coverage within the international media surrounding the worsening relations between the DPRK and the U.S. These events cannot be fully appreciated without some indication of the history of warfare and political struggle over the continued occupation of the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the South by U.S. imperialism.
Kim Il Sung, the founder of the DPRK, was an anti-Japanese imperialist fighter dating back to the 1930s. Kim served in both the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) which was engaged as well in battles to defeat the Japanese invaders who had occupied Korea since 1905-1910, and the Soviet Red Army during World War II.

The Korean Communist Party (KCP) and the Korean People’s Army (KPA) were supported by the Soviet Union under Stalin during the period immediately following the conclusion of World War II when Red Army forces established a presence north of the 38th parallel. Discussions were held between the KCP and the New People’s Party (NPP) in 1946 leading to the merger of these organizations along with the Democratic Party to form the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK), headed by Kim Il Sung.

In 1948, the DPRK was founded with support from throughout the North and Southern regions of the Peninsula. Prior to the formation of the DPRK, the Republic of Korea in the South was established in alliance with the U.S.

By June 1950, the WPK had taken huge swaths of territory in the South. The U.S. and British military forces invaded the South under the banner of the United Nations on June 25 of the same year.

The war lasted until July 1953, when an armistice agreement was signed to end the fighting after an estimated 1.5 million North Koreans and Chinese were killed and wounded along with approximately 36,000 plus U.S. and British troops. Thousands more soldiers from other allied states fighting behind imperialist leadership under the UN banner, were killed, captured and wounded in the war. In addition, well-over one hundred thousand casualties within the U.S. and British forces were documented. There has never been a lasting peace treaty signed by the DPRK, ROK and Washington after 64 years of still being technically at war.

By December 1950, U.S. and British forces had entered the DPRK and made advances are far north as the Yalu River near the border with the People’s Republic of China. Understanding the threat to the Chinese Revolution which had taken power the previous year, the Communist Party of China (CPC) deployed 500,000 Volunteer People’s Army (VPA) forces into the battle where the combined military units of the DPRK and the PRC exacted heavy losses on the imperialist forces compelling them to retreat south of the 38th parallel.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the DPRK made strides in industrializing the country. The development trajectory of the socialist state far exceeded those of the South during this era.

Under the Trump administration, hostilities have reached unprecedented levels not seen since the early 1950s. The U.S. president threatened to destroy the DPRK during a speech before the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City during the week of September 18, 2017. Trump came under criticism for his warmongering speech from several heads-of-state and foreign envoys, including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Russia, China, Iran and the foreign minister of the DPRK.

Although the U.S. attempts to portray the DPRK as a poor and marginalized state, taking into consideration its educational, scientific, military and cultural development over the previous decades, the country is one of the most advanced socialist states in the 21st century. Having developed a deterrent through the production and testing of Inter-continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) systems as well as nuclear weapons, notwithstanding its conventional military forces of several million men and women, constitutes a formidable obstacle to U.S. imperialist interests and aspirations in Asia.

The Chinese Revolution (1949-2017)

In less than 70 years, China has emerged from being an underdeveloped semi-colony of Britain and later Japan, to becoming the second largest economic power internationally, exceeded only by the U.S. The Communist Party of China (CPC) is the largest Left organization in existence having held power since 1949.

PRC socialist policy has undergone various transformations since the early years of the 1950s when it sought to industrialize rapidly through the assistance of Soviet technical advisors and later the “Great Leap Forward.” Problems associated with the differences in approach to economic and foreign policy with Moscow led to the Sino-Soviet Dispute beginning in the late 1950s and intensifying into open polemics by 1963. In 1969, the PRC described the USSR as “social imperialist.”

During 1966, the Cultural Revolution erupted aimed at eradicating transgressions within the CPC and the Chinese state. Mao consolidated his leadership role within the Central Committee of the CPC by appealing directly to the masses through the Red Guards who attacked those considered to be betraying the cause of socialist construction.

The differences between the CPC and Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) created an opening for the establishment of full diplomatic relations with the U.S. under President Jimmy Carter in January 1979. Former U.S. President Richard Nixon traveled to China and met with Chairman Mao Tse-tung in early 1972.

After the death of Mao and the ascendancy of Deng, the PRC was opened up to U.S. and other western capitalists for investment and trade. After the establishment of diplomatic relations with the U.S., Washington recognized Beijing as the representatives of the Chinese people several years after the admittance of the world’s most populace state to the UN in 1971.

China today could be categorized as a socialist-oriented market economy. The state led by the Communist Party maintains control of the overall policy related to production and international trade.

The government has encouraged the development of economic relations with various geo-political regions of the world including North America, Latin America, Africa and the Asia-Pacific. These advances in global trade are based upon the mutual interests of its economic partners and the non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

Since 2000, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has enhanced trade and cooperation between Beijing and African Union (AU) member-states. The PRC invests heavily in infra-structural projects in the areas of medical, scientific, cultural and educational affairs.

Socialism in Eastern and Central Europe: Poland, Romania, German Democratic Republic and Yugoslavia

 As the second imperialist war became inevitable in 1939, the Soviet Union under Stalin signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on August 23. This agreement led to the effective partitioning of Poland by both Nazi Germany in the West and the USSR in the East.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was ended with the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. It would take another two years to defeat Nazi military forces in the Soviet Union in a series of fierce battles the most notable taking place at Stalingrad extending from August 1942 through February 1943.
Soviet Red Army units reentered Poland in 1944 liberating large swaths of territory from the fascists. Eventually a Polish Committee of National Liberation (PKWN), also known as the Lublin Committee, was established on July 22 with strong backing from Moscow. A provisional government formed in December by the PKWN challenged the authority of the western-allied Polish Government in Exile based in London.

A Polish military was rebuilt with Soviet officers playing a dominant role. Two politicians emerged as the dominant personalities of the post-WW II Socialist government in Warsaw, Boleshaw Bierut, who had been a longtime Communist serving in the Soviet intelligence services and military during the intervention of the Red Army after 1944, and Wladyslaw Gomulka, an advocate of more Polish-centered approach to socialist development.

The Polish United Workers Party (PUWP) was formed through a merger of the Worker’s Party and the Socialist Party during a unification congress in December 1948. Gomulka was forced out and imprisoned after 1948 resulting from a factional dispute with the more Stalinist-oriented Bierut.

However, by 1956, Bierut died under what some claimed to have been mysterious circumstances in Moscow after attending the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) where Nkita Krushev delivered his famous speech denouncing the excesses of Stalinism and the cult of personality. Events in Poland led to protests by workers in Puznan that same year. A faction of the PUWP wanted Gomulka rehabilitated as a reformer within the socialist system.

Gomulka played the role of a reformer during the 1956 crises in both Poland and Hungary, where an armed rebellion against the socialist system led to the suppression of the opposition with Soviet military backing. Nonetheless, Gomulka’s reforms remained within the socialist framework and he supported the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968 to suppress the so-called “Prague Spring.”

By the end of 1970, Gomulka had been forced to resign after the killings by security forces of dozens of workers in protests against the economic conditions prevailing in Poland. Over a decade later, Marshall Law was declared in Poland and at the end of the 1980s the Socialist system collapsed under the weight of the decline of the Soviet Union and the rise of the anti-communist trade union movement Solidarity.

The ascendancy of a socialist government in Romania in 1946 came in the aftermath of the country’s involvement on the side of the Nazis during World War II. Ion Victor Antonescu, a military officer credited with suppressing a peasant revolt in 1907, utilized his position to advance the cause of the Third Reich. After the war he was put on trial and executed by the Romanian government.

Antonescu had been overthrown in 1944 in a struggle where the Communist Party played an important role with the participation of the monarch King Michael I, resulting in a break with the Axis and an alignment with the Allied powers. The Left forces in Romania formed a coalition with Petru Groza’s Ploughmen’s Front taking the lead in these efforts. A rebellion during 1945 against the post-war regime of Nicolae Radescu brought about the rise to power of the Bloc of Democratic Parties with Groza as the head-of-state. Eventually the monarchy was forced to abdicate leaving the Left coalition as the sole political force within Romania.
The Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party, at the aegis of the Soviet Union, merged to form the Romanian Worker’s Party in 1948. This party functioned under the same name until 1965 when it became the Communist Party (PCR) once again under the leadership of Nicolae Ceausescu, the secretary general and later president of the country. Ceausescu also changed the titled of the state from the People’s Republic to the Socialist Republic of Romania.

After the departure of the first Communist leader Gheorge Gheorghiu-Dej who ruled from 1947-1965, when he died, there was a stronger emphasis on the national characteristics of the application of socialism in Romania. In August 1968, when the Soviet military intervened in Czechoslovakia, the-then President Ceausescu denounced the removal of the Prague government of Alexander Dubcek, the general secretary of the Czechoslovakia Communist Party, in a speech delivered during the period.

Although it has been said that Romania was more in line with the Stalinist tradition of internal organization of the Party, its apparent independence related to Bucharest’s foreign policy drew the attention of the U.S. and Europe. The Western capitalist states began to make large loans to the socialist government during the 1970s and 1980s including the financing of an oil refining project. As an oil producer, the Ceausescu administration sought to build Romania into a significant supplier of petroleum.

Nonetheless, by the time the refinery was built the price of oil on the international market had declined in the early 1980s. These developments created economic problems for the government which halted the borrowing of funds.

The PCR in Romania during the late 1980s maintained that it was not going to transform into a neo-liberal state as others were doing in the Soviet-allied countries in Eastern and Central Europe.  Held in November 1989, the XIVth Congress of the PCR reelected Ceaușescu, who was 71, for another five years as secretary general. At the Congress, Ceaușescu delivered an address castigating the anti-Communist reversals throughout the rest of Eastern Europe.

Nonetheless, in late December, one month later, the PCR government collapsed amid protests in Timișoara and Bucharest. The military went on national television to tell the population that the army would not fire upon the people. Ceausescu’s own protection units attempted to put down the coup to no avail.

Eventually the Nicolae and Elena, his wife and comrade, were forced down while flying in a helicopter and taken into custody by the military. A show trail was quickly convened to prosecute the Communist leaders. Both Elena and Nicolae were found guilty of serious crimes and sentenced to death. They were then taken to the back of the building where the trial took place and executed by a firing squad.

Romania was the last state to undergo a counter-revolution within the Eastern and Central European Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON). The Soviet Union continued until the end of 1991 after a complete counter-revolution that replaced Michal Gorbachev and the CPSU as leaders of the USSR. The Soviet Union was dissolved by decree leading to the break-up of the first Socialist federation after nearly seventy years.

During this same period, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was being pressured by reform elements to abandon its socialist path. The Socialist Unity Party (SED) had been in power since the formation of the GDR in 1949.

The German Left movement had been strong even dating back to the period of the late 19th century. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were born in Germany although the Social Democratic Party in that country in later years entered parliament and became quite moderate. Leading up to World War I, the party voted in favor of the bourgeois regime entering the conflagration.

At Basle Conference of 1912, all of the social democratic parties had pledged to oppose any imperialist war which appeared even then to be on the horizon. Most of the parties abandoned these resolutions in 1914-1915 with the exception of Russia, Italy, Poland and Bulgaria where the social democratic presence was far smaller in the body politic.
During the course of World War I in 1915, two leading German left social democrats, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Leibknecht founded the Spartacus League which attempted to organize resistance to the imperialist war. Luxemburg and Leibknecht were imprisoned during the concluding years of the war and their release in late 1918 coincided with a national rebellion of the working class and military troops. 

This rebellion erupted in the German Navy known as the Kiel mutiny when the soldiers refused orders to attack the British military. The atmosphere of unrest spread to various regions of the country with the establishment of workers and soldiers councils. After the release of Luxemburg and Leibknecht, the two then broadened the Spartacus League into the German Communist Party (KPD). They entered the upheaval with the objective of overthrowing both the monarchy and the German bourgeoisie declaring a socialist republic.

The monarchy headed by Emperor Wilhelm II abdicated and fled the country. However, the Germany Social Democratic Party (SPD) opposed the seizure of power by the workers and soldiers councils along with the KPD, instead forming an alliance with the German army which set out to violently crush the uprising in January 1919.

Both Luxemburg and Leibknecht were arrested, tortured and executed. A parliamentary system was established known as the Weimar Republic with the SPD playing a leading role in alliance with conservative bourgeois parties.

The KPD continued to maintain significant support through the 1920s leading up to the election of Adolph Hitler of the Nazi Party as Chancellor by the German parliament in early 1933. The KPD was outlawed by the Hitler regime and functioned underground during the years of fascist rule culminating in World War II.

The Soviet Red Army took control of the eastern section of Germany as a result of its leading role in the anti-fascist war. When the country was partitioned between the U.S. and the USSR under Stalin, the KPD and the SPD at the urging of Moscow merged to form the Socialist Unity Party (SED). The SED ruled the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from its inception in 1949 to 1989 when the socialist state collapsed in a wave of counter-revolution which swept Eastern and Central Europe at the end of the decade.
Contrasting the situation in the GDR and other Soviet-allied states, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) always had an independent character due to its history and the leadership of Josip Broz Tito. The anti-fascists fought gallantly against the Nazis during the course of WWII.

 The SFRY was a socialist state and federation governed by the League of Communists of Yugoslavia composed of six republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia with the city of Belgrade being its capital. Also the SFRY encompassed two other autonomous provinces within Serbia, Kosovo and Vojvodina.

SFRY had its origins on November 26, 1942 when the Anti-Fascist Council for the National Liberation of Yugoslavia began during World War II. After the defeat of the Nazis, the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia was announced in November 1945 in the aftermath of the overthrow of King Peter II, ending the monarchy. Initially the socialist federation did align itself with the other Eastern bloc states prior to the Tito–Stalin split of 1948. Eventually, Yugoslavia became a co-founder of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in 1960-1961 alongside Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Nehru of India, among others.

Tito and the SFRY refused to abide by the directives of the USSR under Stalin. It later received assistance from the U.S. and other western states in their attempts to drive a wedge within the world socialist camp. Despite these divisions with the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia continued to maintain an internationalist position in support of national liberation movements in colonial and semi-colonial territories.

The crisis of the SFRY was intensified after the death of Tito in early 1980. During the course of the decade, ethnic unrest escalated in Kosovo and later in Croatia and Slovenia. By the early 1990s, a civil war had erupted leading to the eventual dissolution of the Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia. With the refusal of the Serbian Socialists to concede to a further balkanization of the country, the U.S. and NATO began a bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in early 1999 which lasted over two months.

Even with the compromises made with the imperialists after 1999 through the withdrawal of Yugoslav troops from the Kosovo region, the government of President Slobodan Milosevic was overthrown in a coup during 2000 after a disputed election. On April 1, 2001, Milosevic was arrested by the successor government and transported to the Netherlands to stand trial in the International Crimes Tribunal on Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Immediately the former president rejected the legitimacy of the courts and conducted his own defense. In 2006, Milosevic died in The Hague supposedly of heart disease. No definitive evidence was cited in the Tribunal which implicated Milosevic in war crimes committed during the process of the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Socialism in Africa: Ghana, Ethiopia and Angola

During the post-World War II period the national liberation movements in Africa gained strength in the struggle to overturn colonial rule, to establish independent nation-states and in the most progressive countries the promotion of continental unity and politico-economic integration. The first mass political party to emerge during this period was the Convention People’s Party (CPP) of the Gold Coast, later named Ghana.

Kwame Nkrumah, who spent ten years studying at Lincoln University and the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S., returned to the Gold Coast in 1947 to work as an organizer for the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). He would found the Evening News in 1948, which would later become a pioneering daily publication in Africa advocating for national independence, Pan-Africanism and Socialism.

As a result of the domination of the UGCC by moderate and petty-bourgeois interests, on June 12, 1949, the Committee on Youth Organization (CYO), founded by Nkrumah, encouraged the anti-colonial nationalist leader to form a mass party which would play a vanguard role in the acquisition of state power. After organizing a nationwide strike in January 1950, Nkrumah was imprisoned by the British colonialists.
Nonetheless, the CPP would take advantage of a reform constitution growing out of the Coussey Committee initiated in response to the unrest of February 1948, where ex-servicemen and others were massacred by the British security forces. Nkrumah’s party won an overwhelming majority in the February 1951 poll. Nkrumah was released from prison after one year and appointed as the Leader of Government Business in a transitional arrangement leading to full independence by March 6, 1957.

Nkrumah was heavily influenced by the World Socialist Movement and Pan-Africanism while he was a student in the U.S. in the years from 1935-1945 and in Britain during 1945-1947. He served as a lead organizer, co-convener and secretary of the historic Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England in October 1945.

Ghana under the CPP founded the First Republic in July 1960 signaling a further shift to the Left by Nkrumah. In that same year, the Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union was formed providing the rudimentary structures for the eventual realization of an All-African Socialist Government for the continent. Nkrumah was instrumental in the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in May 1963 encompassing over 30 member-states.

Nonetheless, the majority of African governments which became independent in the early 1960s remained within the political and economic framework of western imperialism. This resulted in a split between a minority of anti-imperialist and socialist-oriented states (Casablanca Group) and the larger number of moderate and pro-capitalist governments labeled as the Monrovia and Brazzaville Groups, which took on a gradualists approach to African unity and national reconstruction.

Nkrumah and the CPP were overthrown in February 1966 by an imperialist plot led by the U.S., Britain and Canada utilizing a coterie of lower-ranking military officers and police agents driving the president into exile in Guinea-Conakry. Nkrumah sought to reformulate his approach to African Liberation and Socialism writing a series of book and pamphlets in the years of 1966-1971.

In an article entitled “African Socialism Revisited”, published in 1967, Nkrumah stresses: “Socialism is not spontaneous. It does not arise of itself. It has abiding principles according to which the major means of production and distribution ought to be socialized if exploitation of the many by the few is to be prevented; if, that is to say, egalitarianism in the economy is to be protected. Socialist countries in Africa may differ in this or that detail of their policies, but such differences themselves ought not to be arbitrary or subject to vagaries of taste. They must be scientifically explained, as necessities arising from differences in the particular circumstances of the countries themselves. There is only one way of achieving socialism; by the devising of policies aimed at the general socialist goals, each of which takes its particular form from the specific circumstances of a particular state at a definite historical period. Socialism depends on dialectical and historical materialism, upon the view that there is only one nature, subject in all its manifestations to natural laws and that human society is, in this sense, part of nature and subject to its own laws of development. It is the elimination of fancifulness from socialist action that makes socialism scientific. To suppose that there are tribal, national, or racial socialisms is to abandon objectivity in favor of chauvinism.” (

Nonetheless, the struggle for national liberation and socialism intensified during the late 1960s through the 1980s. The focus of the theoretical and political work surrounding the anti-imperialist struggle shifted from Accra to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania after 1966. Liberation movements, which were based there and in other regions of the continent, made profound contributions to the theoretical and practical aspects of the evolving struggle.
An armed phase of the African Revolution saw an extension of the process of guerrilla movements taking the lead in the independence struggles as was developed in Algeria during its war with French imperialism (1954-1961). In Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, revolutionary movements fought monumental struggles to win their national liberation from Portugal, Rhodesia and the racist apartheid regime in South Africa.

In Ethiopia, the mass struggle of workers and youth resulted in the overthrow of the monarchy of Haile Selassie in 1974. The Provisional Military Administrative Council (Dergue) took power to oversee massive land reform programs and the nationalization of industry.

A nationwide radio and television address was delivered by Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile-Mariam, the Chairman of the Dergue, on June 7, 1978. This speech was entitled “The National Revolutionary War in the North.”

Mengistu in outlining the gains of the Ethiopian Revolution said: “The nationalization of rural land, the means of production and distribution, insurance companies and banks, and urban land and extra houses—the very means of feudo-bourgeois exploitation—is one major triumph. The mass organization of people in urban and rural areas from the kebele to the national level, and more particularly the establishment of the All-Ethiopia Trade Union and recently the All-Ethiopia Peasants Association are sweet fruits of the revolution gained through bitter struggle. Although our revolution has made these significant victories possible during the last four years, it still faces numerous phases of struggle ahead.”
By the mid-1980s, the Workers Party of Ethiopia (WPE) was formed as the ruling organization of the state.  This revolutionary process however was not able to ameliorate the conflicts in various regions of Ethiopia including Eritrea, Tigray, Oromo and the Ogaden.

By 1991, with the decline of the USSR and the allied Socialist governments in Eastern Europe, Ethiopia was taken over by the current ruling party, the Ethiopia People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Since the 1990s, massive investments in the military and commercial sectors have been made by the U.S. and other western-allied states.

The development of the armed struggle in the former Portuguese colony of Angola was instrumental in the further clarification of the political and social dimensions of the African Revolution. Beginning in 1961, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) embarked upon a war of liberation which last for fourteen years.
This period in African history represented one of the most fulfilling conjunctures where the independence of a national territory, the implementation of Pan-African solidarity and internationalism converged to open up avenues for the total liberation of the sub-continent. At the First Congress of the MPLA in 1977, the organization committed itself to building a Marxist-Leninist party. The Congress added “Party of Labor” to its name and continued this orientation for many years.

Angola, backed by 350,000 Cuban Internationalists deployed in defense of its independence and sovereignty from 1975-1989, served as a rear base for other national liberation movements fighting to secure the total emancipation of Southern Africa. Oliver Tambo, the-then Acting President of the African National Congress (ANC) in his presentation before the MPLA-Workers Party First Congress upheld: “The heroic anti-colonial struggles of the peoples of Africa for national independence, including, in particular, the armed struggles of the people of Algeria, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, Angola and Mozambique, culminated in the epoch-making collapse of Portuguese colonialism in Africa. The earth-shaking victories of FRELIMO and MPLA brought southern Africa to the crossroads. But the revolutionary experience accumulated during the liberation wars ensured that the people`s advance towards social emancipation would not be halted. Thus it is that as the year 1977 opened with the third Congress of FRELIMO, so it is ending with the first Congress of MPLA. Both Congresses are the collective voice of the Mozambican and Angolan peoples, proclaiming the continuation of the revolutionary struggle at a higher plain, more arduous but no less glorious than the earlier struggles. The historic significance of the first Congress of MPLA is precisely that, for southern Africa, like the FRELIMO Congress, it blazes a new trail out of the crossroads towards the conquest of a socialist future for the peoples - a future free of exploitation.” (

In the recent period when the MPLA convened its 7th Ordinary Congress during August 2016, the resolutions spoke to the worldwide economic crisis engendered by the continuing dependency of independent African states on the whims and caprices of the international energy and commodities market. Angola went from phenomenal economic growth to a rapid escalation of national debt when after 2014 the price of oil dropped by over 65 percent.   

During the period of the 1950s through the 1990s, National Democratic Revolutions, Non-Capitalist development and Socialist-orientation emerged in a number of African states including Ghana, Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, Congo-Brazzaville, Guinea-Conakry, Guinea-Bissau, Zambia, Benin, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Somalia and Madagascar. The OAU was transformed into the African Union (AU) in 2002 with greater emphasis on continental unity, military cooperation and economic integration.

However, neo-colonialism has remained as the major impediment to the consolidation of genuine independence and socialist construction. Nkrumah in his 1965 book entitled “Neo-Colonialism: The Last State of Imperialism”, writes: “Faced with the militant peoples of the ex-colonial territories in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, imperialism simply switches tactics. Without a qualm it dispenses with its flags, and even with certain of its more hated expatriate officials. This means, so it claims, that it is ‘giving’ independence to its former subjects, to be followed by ‘aid’ for their development. Under cover of such phrases, however, it devises innumerable ways to accomplish objectives formerly achieved by naked colonialism. It is this sum total of these modern attempts to perpetuate colonialism while at the same time talking about ‘freedom’, which has come to be known as neo-colonialism.” (
Madame Fathia Nkrumah, Dr. We.E.B. Du Bois, Dr. Kwame
Nkrumah and Mrs. Shirley Graham Du Bois in Ghana on February
23, 1963.
Nkrumah continues noting that the: “Foremost among the neo-colonialists is the United States, which has long exercised its power in Latin America. Fumblingly at first she turned towards Europe, and then with more certainty after world war two when most countries of that continent were indebted to her. Since then, with methodical thoroughness and touching attention to detail, the Pentagon set about consolidating its ascendancy, evidence of which can be seen all around the world. Who really rules in such places as Great Britain, West Germany, Japan, Spain, Portugal or Italy? If General de Gaulle is ‘defecting’ from U.S. monopoly control, what interpretation can be placed on his ‘experiments’ in the Sahara desert, his paratroopers in Gabon, or his trips to Cambodia and Latin America? Lurking behind such questions are the extended tentacles of the Wall Street octopus. And its suction cups and muscular strength are provided by a phenomenon dubbed ‘The Invisible Government’, arising from Wall Street’s connection with the Pentagon and various intelligence services.”

Socialism in West Asia: Syria, Iraq and South Yemen

Three states in the so-called Middle East (West Asia) underwent revolutionary transformations in the aftermath of World War II. The rise of Arab Baath Movement, the Arab Socialist Movement and the Arab Baath Socialist Party stemmed from the anti-colonial struggle against France and Britain. 
Michel Aflaq, a Greek Orthodox Christian born in Syria in 1910, is often cited as the philosophical founder of the Baath ideology and political movement. Aflaq was considered a brilliant student while attending the French mandated schools in Syria. Eventually he studied at the Sorbonne in France beginning around 1930 where he developed a serious interest in national liberation and Arab unity.

After returning to Syria, he and Salah ad-Din al Bitar, founded the Arab Baath Party which held its first public conference in 1947. The party called for the unification of what they described as the Arab world in West Asia and North Africa.

A biographical entry on reports on this historical figure saying: “ʿAflaq first saw nationalism as centering upon the issue of imperialism; he especially resented the French, who after World War I (1914–18) held a mandate over Syria and Lebanon. In 1929–34, however, he studied at the University of Paris, and his political thinking took on a Marxist orientation. He came to believe that the nationalist struggle had to oppose both the native aristocracy and the foreign ruler. By 1940 he was ready to devote his full efforts to organizing a political party, although he did not officially establish the Baʿth Party until 1946. ʿAflaq’s role was that of teacher, theorist, and organizer; he seldom held public office.” (

This same article goes on to note that: “ʿAflaq’s political thinking linked the themes of unity, freedom, and socialism. He saw the Baʿth’s main goal, the unification of all the Arab states into a single socialist nation, as a regenerative process that would reform Arab society and character and as a vital creative force that would foster the emergence of a morally ideal society. He saw the final achievement of the Baʿth’s goal as the product of a profound and nonviolent overthrow of the status quo.”

The formation of the Baath party coincided with the rise of nationalism throughout the entire Middle East and Africa. With the defeat and fragmentation of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, a series of treaties imposed by the Western imperialist governments divided the region into six separate states.

Syrian nationalists declared the country independent of France in 1941 after the ascendancy of the pro-Nazi Vichy regime was installed by Hitler in Paris the previous year. Nonetheless, it was not until 1944 that the independence of Syria was recognized, leading to the withdrawal of French troops on April 17, 1946 and the formal liberation of the country.

Despite these developments, intellectuals such as Aflaq, al-Bitar and Akram al-Hawran, sought to create a national democratic and socialist-oriented Syria in alliance with similar movements throughout the region. Al-Hawran, was born in 1912 in the central region of Hama. He would form the Arab Socialist Movement and the later Arab Socialist Party in 1950. The Arab Socialist Party merged with the Arab Baath Movement in 1954, becoming the Arab Baath Socialist Party.

Al-Hawran served in the Syrian parliament between 1947 and 1962. He would go into exile as a result of the withdrawal of his faction from the ABSP in 1963.

Syria and Egypt under President Gamal Abdel Nasser merged their governments in 1958 forming the United Arab Republic (UAR). This configuration collapsed in 1961 over differences with the Nasser government in regard to the composition and authority of each respective state.

Another split within the ABSP occurred in 1966 when Aflaq left Syria and ultimately settled in Iraq. In later years Aflaq retained his position as secretary general of the ABSP in Baghdad. His role appeared to have been largely advisory where the actual work of the party within the governments of Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr and President Saddam Hussein after the July 17, 1968 Revolution, brought the ABSP back to power after being deposed in 1963, then only governing Iraq for several months.
Although as mentioned above, the issue of who originated the Baath Movement has been subject to dispute in part deriving from the fracturing of the ABSP after 1966 between the two wings of the party, one based in Syria and the faction in Iraq. Zaki al-Arsuzi, also born in Syria, has been noted as well as the founder of the Baathist philosophy and organization.  Al-Arsuzi, born in 1889, had been a member of the League of National Action in the early 1930s. He had studied at the Sorbonne in France prior to both Aflaq and al-Bitar. Al-Arsuzi specialized in the study of language and its relationship to culture. In 1943 he published a book entitled “The Genius of Arabic in Its Tongue.”

Later Al-Arsuzi formed the Arab Baath, which initially was a separate organization from the Arab Baath Movement of Aflaq and al-Bitar. The two organizations merged with the formal founding of the Arab Baath Party in 1947.

The Syrian-led ABSP has characterized Aflaq as a "thief".  They claim that Aflaq had stolen the ideology and philosophy from al-Arsuzi claiming that he had been the originator. Al-Arsuzi was held in a high regard by Hafiz al-Assad, the former leader of Syria, as the initiator of Baathist thought. While the Iraqi wing of the party continued to proclaim Aflaq as the founder of the movement.

Former President Hafiz al-Assad characterized al-Arsuzi as the "greatest Syrian of his day" and claimed him to be the "first to conceive of the Ba'ath as a political movement." The Syrian ABSP built a statue of al-Arsuzi in the aftermath of the 1966 split. A more objective view maybe that the Baath movement developed with the essential contributions of all three of these figures, al-Arsuzi, Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar.

The military section of the ABSP became dominant in both Syria and Iraq during the 1960s and 1970s. The party was overthrown and officially disbanded in Iraq with the U.S. invasion and occupation of 2003.

Events in Syria beginning in 2011, where the U.S., Britain and other NATO states have sought to remove the government of President Bashar al-Assad, the son of the former leader. Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah intervention in defense of the Syrian government has been critical in the driving out of western-backed Islamists and other counter-revolutionary elements from the provinces of Syria.

Operating alongside the Arab nationalist and Pan-Arab movements has been the Syrian Communist Party. Founded in 1924 as the Communist Party of Syria and Lebanon in Beirut, the party later opposed the Vichy government and was recognized by the “Free French” who took control of Syria in 1944. In that same year the Lebanese and Syria wings of the party became separate.
Earlier in 1933, the future party leader Khalid Bakdash, went into exile to the Soviet Union as a result of political repression under French rule.  In Moscow he studied at the Far East University.

After returning to Syria in 1936, Bakdash was appointed as the Secretary General of the party, a position he held through the formal founding of the Syrian Communist Party (SCP) in 1944 and beyond. Two years before in 1942, the anti-Vichy forces took control of Syria and legalized the party.

Bakdash was elected to the Syrian parliament in 1954, becoming the first Communist to serve in a legislative body within the West Asia region. The principle issues facing the Left and nationalist organizations were the questions of Arab unity and socialism.
The SCP supported the unification with Egypt in 1958 although it became critical of Nasser due to his suppression of the Egyptian Communist Party and the Muslim Brotherhood. Under the UAR, the SCP was suppressed forcing Bakdash to leave the country again for Moscow where he remained until 1966. The UAR fell apart in 1961 while the “separatist” government in Syria lost considerable support among the population. The SCP welcomed the dissolution of the UAR causing factional disputes and defections.

On March 8, 1963, a coup occurred in Syria. The new government appeared to want reunification with Cairo. However, this second attempt at unity never materialized. Bakdash was allowed to return to Syria in 1966 under the terms that he not become involved in politics.

In 1970, Hafez al-Assad came to power and two years later enacted a policy of political pluralism under the dominance of the ABSP. A National Progressive Front (NPF) was formed in 1972 including ten parties. The SCP joined this alliance and therefore is part of the legislative branch of the Syrian government (People’s Council of Syria).

A split occurred within the SCP after 1986 when differences of opinion arose over the reforms implemented by the Soviet government and party under Mikhail Gorbachev. Bakdash rejected the glasnost and perestroika policies while Deputy Secretary General Yusuf Faisal accepted them. Currently there are two SCPs with both serving in the NPF which is the leading force in Syrian politics.

Further reforms in Syria were adopted in the midst of the civil war. In 2014, a further loosening of control by the administration of President Bashar al-Assad allows for greater maneuvering on the part of opposition parties. A Popular Front for Change and Liberation is recognized as the official opposition coalition in parliament. This alliance is a small minority and has agreed to pursue its objective within the existing political system.

For the purpose of this section on socialism in West Asia, we will conclude with the history of the People’s Republic of Yemen which was founded in 1967. The South of Yemen was ruled separately by the British from the mid-19th century until the time of independence in late 1967.

Agitation for national independence in the South led to an armed struggle beginning in 1963 involving the National Liberation Front. After achieving freedom in 1967, the country established itself as the People’s Republic of South Yemen. Eventually the name was changed to the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen in 1970.
In relationship to the political dynamics surrounding independent South Yemen, Abdul Fattah Ismail founded the Yemen Socialist Party (YSP) in 1978. The creation of the YSP followed a policy of unification of the revolutionary nationalists and left forces from both the South and the North.

The base of the YSP evolved from the Unified Political National Front Organization which derived from the merging of three parties, being the National Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (NLF), the Democratic Popular Union Party (Marxist) and the Popular Vanguard Party (a left-wing Ba'athist party), as well as the Yemeni Popular Unity Party in North Yemen.

Yemeni Popular Unity Party was also the result of the merging of five left-wing organizations, namely the Revolutionary Democratic Party of Yemen, the Popular Vanguard Party in North Yemen, the Organization of Yemeni Revolutionary Resistors, the Popular Democratic Union and the Labor Party. The YSP became the only legal party in the PDRY.

Due to its united front character, factional disagreements arose and intensified during the 1980s.  Abdul Fattah Ismail served as the de facto leader of the Yemen Revolution from 1969-1980.  He was reportedly incapacitated by medical problems in 1980 and travelled to the Soviet Union for treatment.

Ismail’s successor was President Ali Nasser Muhammad, who adopted a more conciliatory tone in comparison to the pro-Soviet line of Ismail. Nasser Muhammad set out to repair relations with South Yemen's neighbors along with the West.

Eventually antagonism between the two factions led to the South Yemen civil war in early 1986 which resulted in the death of Abdul Fattah Ismail. After the fighting subsided Ismail’s ally Ali Salim al-Beidh took control of the YSP, while the more moderate Haidar Abu Bakr al-Attas became president. As the principal allies of the PDRY in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union weakened and collapsed, the leaders of the government negotiated a reunification of both the North and the South.

Al-Beidh and al-Attas held positions in the government of a reunified Yemen until the 1994 civil war. Parliamentary elections were held in October 1986, and although the YSP remained the sole legal party, independent candidates were allowed to contest the elections, winning 40 of the 111 seats, while the YSP won the majority of positions with 71 seats.

Today there is a movement in the South of Yemen calling for the reestablishment of an independent republic. The current crisis in Yemen is a direct result of U.S. efforts to halt the influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran throughout the region of West Asia on the Arabian Peninsula and within the Persian Gulf states.

The Ansurallah (Houthis), a Shiite-based movement which is supported by Tehran politically, has taken over large swaths of Yemeni territory in the North, Central and Southern regions of the country. An alliance of anti-Ansurallah forces in the South has been able to halt and push back the advances of the Ansurallah.

Since March 2015, the Saudi Arabian-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has engaged in massive aerial bombardments of Yemen including the capital of Sanaa. Thousands of people have been killed and wounded while the country is battling a major cholera outbreak stemming from the targeting of infrastructure by the GCC, destroying ports, neighborhoods, hospitals, water supply systems and power grids.

These air campaigns are supplemented by ground operations where supporters of ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi are fighting against the Ansurallah which has formed an alliance with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was removed from office after massive protests in 2011. Hadi is backed by Saudi Arabia and the GCC.

The Pentagon and British defense forces supply the Saudi-GCC with the fighter aircraft utilized in this military campaign which has continued for over two years. In addition, the U.S. Defense Department provides refueling technology and intelligence coordinates which have been essential in inflicting damage to the governance structures established by the Ansurallah and its allies in Yemen.

It is not clear whether the reemergence of an independent South Yemen would result in a socialist-oriented government pursuing anti-imperialist policies. Nonetheless, these issues will in all likelihood not be resolved until the U.S.-backed war is brought to an end.

These historical developments in Syria, Iraq and Yemen illustrate the potential for revolutionary transformation in the so-called Middle East or West Asia. However, until a broad alliance of anti-imperialist forces consolidate their approaches to the process of nation-building and socialist construction, the imperialists, led by Washington and their allies, will continue to destabilize and dominate the peoples of this region.

 Socialism in Latin America: Cuba and Venezuela

On January 1, 1959, the July 26th Movement seized power in the Caribbean Island-nation of Cuba breaking with the centuries-old legacy of slavery and colonialism. Prime Minister Fidel Castro heading the Cuban state began to initiate reforms through the elimination of institutional racism, the oppression of women, land reform and the eventual nationalization of industry and the construction of socialism.
By 1960, the U.S. began to take measures that deliberately sought to remove Castro and his government. The following year in April 1961, the White House under President Kennedy authorized a mission by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to overthrow the revolutionary government in Cuba. Known as the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the plan failed miserably resulting in the deaths and capturing of hundreds of counter-revolutionary Cubans and CIA agents. The Cuban Revolution grew stronger in the aftermath of the defeat of U.S. imperialism at the Bay of Pigs and would the following year be threatened with nuclear war during October 1962, in the incident known as the Missile Crisis involving Havana, the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Cuba established firm relations with the national liberation movements and revolutionary governments in Africa. Cuban internationalist forces assisted in the defense of the sovereignty of the Algerian Revolution in 1963. Two years later, Che Guevara, the Minister of Economic Planning in the Cuban government, participated in a failed campaign aimed at seizing power on behalf of the forces defending the legacy of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, who was overthrown and executed at the aegis of imperialism in 1960-61.
President Fidel Castro greets President Ahmed Sekou Toure of
Guinea, President Agostino Neto of Angola and President Luiz
Cabral of Guinea-Bissau.
A decade later, the Cuban Internationalists were deployed in Angola to work alongside the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in consolidating independence in this former Portuguese colony beginning in October 1975. Cuban forces remained in Angola until early 1989, after the defeat of the racist apartheid South African Defense Forces (SADF) leading to the independence of neighboring Namibia in 1990. These advances created the conditions for the release of political prisoners in South Africa in 1990, the beginning of negotiations between the African National Congress (ANC) and the apartheid regime which culminated in the adoption of an interim constitution, the holding of non-racial elections and the ascendancy of the ANC to power in May 1994.

Socialism in Cuba has, under most unfavorable conditions imposed by the U.S. blockade, made tremendous gains for the people. The elimination of illiteracy, the training of physicians and other health care workers, universal free education, scientific research, its internationalism and Pan-Africanism related its participation in the campaign for the total liberation of Southern Africa and other regions of the continent, provides a sterling example of the role of a socialist state within a world still dominated by imperialism.

The Bolivarian Revolution in the South American state of Venezuela is currently under serious threat by U.S. imperialism and its allies in the region. There are concerted attempts being made by Washington to destabilize and topple the government led by the United Socialist Party (PSUV) and President Nicolas Maduro.
Since the rise of former President Hugo Chavez, successive U.S. governments through George Bush, Barack Obama and now Donald Trump have taken a hostile position towards Venezuela. In 2002, the Chavez government was removed for several days by a section of the military kidnapping the revolutionary leader. Soon enough the masses mobilized to reverse the coup, marking a new mood both within South America and other former colonial nations.

Under the leadership of Chavez, poverty was greatly reduced in Venezuela. Reforms related to land redistribution, price controls, the development of state-owned enterprises operated on behalf of the workers, providing social benefits for women workers, the recognition of the Indigenous and African heritage of the country, an enhancement of anti-imperialist foreign policy deepening relations with Africa, China, Iran and other geo-political regions. Venezuela was a co-founder of the Africa-South America (ASA) Summit which has held high-level meetings over the last several years.

The creation of a Constituent Assembly in Venezuela has provided an opening to resume an offensive posture against imperialism and the construction of socialism. Anti-government disturbances have subsided while Trump at the UN General Assembly 72nd Session in September 2017 issued a new round of threats against President Maduro.

III. Socialism Advances National Liberation and Gender Emancipation

Two essential aspects of socialist construction involve the proper resolution of national oppression, the relations between nationalities and the right of peoples to self-determination and sovereignty. In addition, the emancipation of women is a prerequisite as well to the full realization of a socialist and communist society.
Lenin from his earliest days as a political theorist and organizer paid close attention to the status of women within Russian society. His decades-long comrade, advisor and wife, Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya, who worked as the secretary of the RSDLP-Bolshevik press, teacher of party cadre, and after the Revolution, the Deputy Minister of Education and the eventual chair of the Education Committee of the Soviet state, compiled and published a collection of writings, speeches and resolutions in 1933 chronicling the development of the Leninist view on gender equality related to socialist construction.

Nadezhda K. Krupskaya in the Preface to “The Emancipation of Women: From Writings of V.I. Lenin”, affirms that: “In the course of his revolutionary activities Lenin often wrote and spoke about the emancipation of working women in general and peasant women in particular. To be sure, the emancipation of women is inseparably bound up with the entire struggle for the workers' cause, for socialism. We know Lenin as the leader of the working people, as the organizer of the Party and Soviet government, as a fighter and builder. Every working woman, every peasant woman must know about all that Lenin did, every aspect of his work, without limiting herself to what Lenin said about the position of working women and their emancipation. But because there exists the closest connection between the entire struggle of the working class and improving the position of women, Lenin often--on more than forty occasions, in fact--referred to this question in his speeches and articles, and every one of these references was inseparably bound up with all the other things that were of interest and concern to him at the time.”
Another leading Marxist theoretician and organizer was Clara Zetkin of Germany. Zetkin was a member of the German Social Democratic Party and after 1915 joined with the Independents who opposed World War I. She was a co-founder of the German Spartacus League which would later form the German Communist Party (KPD). Zetkin eventually moved to Moscow and became a close collaborator and friend of V.I. Lenin.

In an address delivered on October 16, 1896 at the Congress of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, she emphasized the class character of the women’s movement in Europe. Zetkin pointed out that: “The investigations of Bachofen, Morgan and others seem to prove that the social suppression of women coincided with the creation of private property. The contrast within the family between the husband as proprietor and the wife as non-proprietor became the basis for the economic dependence and the social illegality of the female sex. This social illegality represents, according to Engels, one of the first and oldest forms of class rule. He states: ‘Within the family, the husband constitutes the bourgeoisie and the wife the proletariat.’ Nonetheless, a women’s question in the modern sense of the word did not exist. It was only the capitalist mode of production which created the societal transformation that brought forth the modern women’s question by destroying the old family economic system which provided both livelihood and life’s meaning for the great mass of women during the pre-capitalistic period. We must, however, not transfer to the ancient economic activities of women those concepts (the concepts of futility and pettiness), that we connect with the activities of women in our times. As long as the old type of family still existed, a woman found a meaningful life by productive activity. Thus she was not conscious of her social illegality even though the development of her potentials as an individual was strictly limited.” (

In this same address, Zetkin continues saying: “Bourgeois society is not fundamentally opposed to the bourgeois women’s movement, which is proven by the fact that in various states reforms of private and public laws concerning women have been initiated. There are two reasons why the accomplishment of these reforms seems to take an exceptionally long time in Germany: First of all, men fear the battle of competition in the liberal professions and secondly, one has to take into account the very slow and weak development of bourgeois democracy in Germany which does not live up to its historical task because of its class fear of the proletariat. It fears that the realization of such reforms will only bring advantages to Social-Democracy. The less a bourgeois democracy allows itself to be hypnotized by such a fear, the more it is prepared to undertake reforms. England is a good example. England is the only country that still possesses a truly powerful bourgeoisie, whereas the German bourgeoisie, shaking in fear of the proletariat, shies away from carrying out political and social reforms. As far as Germany is concerned, there is the additional factor of widespread Philistine views. The Philistine braid of prejudice reaches far down the back of the German bourgeoisie. To be sure, this fear of the bourgeois democracy is very shortsighted. The granting of political equality to women does not change the actual balance of power. The proletarian woman ends up in the proletarian, the bourgeois woman in the bourgeois camp. We must not let ourselves be fooled by Socialist trends in the bourgeois women’s movement which last only as long as bourgeois women feel oppressed.”

As it relates to the historical experiences of African people within the context of liberation movements and the construction of independent states specifically within the framework of a national democratic revolution, socialist-orientation and construction, the role of women has been highly significant, although oftentimes unacknowledged by historians, social scientists and many politicians themselves. Serious study of the events in Egypt during the uprising of 1919, the burgeoning South African struggle against the dreaded pass laws and the broader policy of legalized segregation (apartheid) during the 1950s, as well as the armed phase of the African Revolution in colonies such as Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Zimbabwe and Namibia, the contributions of women contain tremendous lessons for the overall process of radical social transformation.

The Convention People’s Party (CPP) of the Gold Coast and later Ghana relied on the efforts of women in the important fields of propaganda, fundraising and mass mobilization in support of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Ghana under Nkrumah purposely promoted women to higher levels of involvement in the party press, legislative positions, social services and education.
Josina Machel of FRELIMO.
Samora Machel, the leader of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) in the wake of the assassination by Portuguese colonial agents of founder Eduardo Molande, characterized the liberation of women as a prerequisite for the success of the national liberation struggle. These revolutionary views distinguished the legitimate liberation movements from those which sought compromise with the imperialist system after independence leading directly to neo-colonial dominance.

During the armed struggle against Portugal, FRELIMO held the First Conference of Mozambican Women on March 4, 1973. Machel in his address to the gathering stressed: “The liberation of women is not an act of charity. It is not the result of a humanitarian or compassionate position. It is a fundamental necessity for the Revolution, a guarantee of its continuity, and a condition for its success. The Revolution's main objective is to destroy the system of the exploitation of man by man, the construction of a new society which will free human potentialities and reconcile work and nature. It is within this context that the question of women's liberation arises. In general, the women are the most oppressed the most exploited beings in our society. She is exploited even by him who is exploited himself, beaten by him who is tortured by the palmatorio, humiliated by him who is trod underfoot by the boss or the settler. How may our Revolution succeed without liberating women? Is it possible to liquidate a system of exploitation and still leave a part of society exploited? Can we get rid of only one part of exploitation and oppression? Can we clear away half the weeds without the risk that the surviving half will grow even stronger? Can we then make the Revolution without the mobilization of women? If women compose over half of the exploited and oppressed population, can we leave them on the fringes of the struggle?” (

This African revolutionary leader goes on to surmise that: “In order for the Revolution to succeed, we must mobilize all of the exploited and oppressed, and consequently the women also. In order for the Revolution to triumph, it must liquidate the totality of the exploitative and oppressive system, it must liberate all the exploited and oppressed people, and thus it must liquidate women's exploitation and oppression. It is obliged to liberate women.”

Combined with the liberation of women in the revolutionary struggle is the necessity of grappling and solving the question of national oppression. The liberation of the oppressed colonial and neo-colonial peoples is part and parcel of the struggle for the construction of a socialist society. Lenin wrote about this even during the early years of the 20th century. He engaged in polemics on the issue with German Social Democrat and later Communist, Rosa Luxemburg, who despite her revolutionary courage and commitment to the abolition of capitalism and imperialism disagreed with Lenin on the right of nations to self-determination.

Lenin wrote in 1916 during his time in exile that the right of self-determination of peoples cannot be glossed over in the path towards the international proletarian revolution. He maintains in this thesis that: “The right of nations to self-determination means only the right to independence in a political sense, the right to free, political secession from the oppressing nation. Concretely, this political, democratic demand implies complete freedom to carry on agitation in favor of secession, and freedom to settle the question of secession by means of a referendum of the nation that desires to secede. Consequently, this demand is by no means identical with the demand for secession, for partition, for the formation of small states. It is merely the logical expression of the struggle against national oppression in every form. The more closely the democratic system of state approximates to complete freedom of secession, the rarer and weaker will the striving for secession be in practice; for the advantages of large states, both from the point of view of economic progress and from the point of view of the interests of the masses, are beyond doubt, and these advantages increase with the growth of capitalism. The recognition of self-determination is not the same as making federation a principle. One may be a determined opponent of this principle and a partisan of democratic centralism and yet prefer federation to national inequality as the only path towards complete democratic centralism. It was precisely from this point of view that Marx, although a centralist preferred even the federation of Ireland with England to the forcible subjection of Ireland to the English.” (
The founder of the first socialist state goes on to illustrate this point made more than a year-and-a-half prior to the triumph of the Bolshevik Revolution saying: “The aim of socialism is not only to abolish the present division of mankind (humanity) into small states and all national isolation; not only to bring the nations closer to each other, but also to merge them. And in order to achieve this aim, we must, on the one hand, explain to the masses the reactionary nature of the ideas of Renner and Otto Bauer concerning   so-called ‘cultural national autonomy’ and, on the other hand, demand the liberation of the oppressed nations, not only in general, nebulous phrases, not in empty declamations, not by ‘postponing’ the question until socialism is established, but in a clearly and precisely formulated political program which shall particularly take into account the hypocrisy and cowardice of the Socialists in the oppressing nations. Just as mankind can achieve the abolition of classes only by passing through the transition period of the dictatorship of the oppressed class, so mankind can achieve the inevitable merging of nations only by passing through the transition period of complete liberation of all the oppressed nations, i.e., their freedom to secede.”

These observations by Lenin were important in the continuation of the struggle for socialism and national liberation long after his death in 1924. Whether in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East (West Asia) and within the oppressor (imperialist) states themselves, the movements against racism, national oppression and for the emancipation of the dark peoples of the world has proven to be the life blood of the ongoing struggle for the realization of proletarian internationalism.

IV. Conclusion: Our Role in Building a Socialist Movement in North America

This has been a brief description of the application of the principles of Marxism-Leninism and Scientific Socialism through experiences of parties and national liberation movements that have achieved state power. More work in this area needs to be done in order to provide a detailed analyses of the contradictions which emerged within these organizations and governments.
The lessons learned from the historical development of the World Socialist Movement is essential for the making of genuine revolutionary anti-imperialist cadre in North America in the 21st century. Since the early 1950s, efforts have been underway to bring the thinking of Western Marxist-Leninists and other revolutionaries in line with actual events within Socialist revolutionary processes which have taken place in the former Soviet Union, Asia, Africa and Latin America.
It is important that the study of historical materialism and dialectical materialism is applied in the real world. As Marx observed in the 19th century, Philosophers have merely interpreted the world the point is to change it.

 In order to change the world there must be a revolutionary party to give expression to the workers and oppressed in their continuing struggle against capitalism and imperialism in the U.S. and indeed throughout the world. The internationalization of the capitalist markets and production process provides the material basis for the formation of a socialist system on a global scale. 

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