Sunday, November 7, is the 93rd anniversary of one of the greatest events in all of human history, the coming to power of the Russian Revolution led by V.I. Lenin. (Also known as the Glorious October Revolution, the actual date falls in November on the modern calendar.) Read Red has been getting more and more visits from people in the countries of the former USSR and the former Soviet bloc--hello Romania! hi there Bulgaria! howdy Kazakhstan! and of course welcome welcome welcome my dear comrades in Russia, ever devoted as you are to overturning the counterrevolution that has led to such devastation in your country, devastation that includes increased infant mortality, lowered life expectancy, high unemployment, and above all a calamitous plunge in the conditions for the female including the horrific rise of the traffic in women and girls. I can't let this occasion pass without noting it and paying tribute to all that the peoples of Eastern Europe and Central Asia accomplished in the 73 years between the triumph of the Revolution and the U.S.-funded, CIA-engineered counterrevolution--all the strides made toward building democratic, equitable societies with decent living standards, and all the heroic sacrifices made in the battle to defeat fascism.
There is a fashion in the U.S. and Europe among those who style themselves as some sort of progressive and/or appropriate the label "socialist." This fashion, which definitely plays out in the literary arts, is to pretend to be for socialism but to reject and denounce anyone anywhere who actually fights for socialism in the living struggle, to tar any socialist movement that actually manages to take state power as faulty and not worthy of support or solidarity. Those who take this stance, and they are legion, the critics of Revolutionary Cuba, for example, the ridiculers of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the opponents of the FARC of Colombia or the PFLP of Palestine, are in my opinion piss-poor sorry shadows of what a revolutionary socialist should be, and they are objectively siding with imperialism. The comrades with whom I feel the closest political affinity take the opposite approach. We support any and every revolutionary socialist movement. We hail and stand in solidarity with any and every communist party in power. This is not because we have stars in our eyes. No movement or government appears to me to be perfect. But we don't place ourselves above the masses of workers and oppressed of any country as if we somehow have the right to be the arbiter of their worthiness or the correctness or incorrectness of their theory or revolutionary practice. We apply no litmus test. If you are fighting the capitalists and imperialists, we are with you, no matter the details of any disagreement we might have. It's as simple as that old coal strikers' song: which side are you on? Me, I'm with the working class and oppressed peoples.
And so it is with the Russian Revolution. Was it perfect? We all know it wasn't. Was it a huge step, a 73-year-long series of huge steps, toward building the kind of society we all want, the kind of society that the whole planet needs if it and we are to survive? It most certainly was.
That's why I'll be there with you in spirit, my sisters and brothers in Moscow who do not give up the fight, on Sunday, the 93rd anniversary of the Revolution, when you gather on Tver Street between Pushkin Square and B. Gnezdnikovsky Lane at 11:30 and march to a rally and concert at Theater Square. (Thanks to Fuck Yeah Marxism-Leninism for this info.) If I find any photos of the demonstration, I'll post them next week. Update: lots of photos, from both now and then, at my comrade Greg's site Fuck Yeah Marxism Leninism.
My solidarity with everyone trying to build socialism is also why I like this video. It's obviously sort of a promotional piece, propaganda on behalf of the DPRK. And that's great! I use the word propaganda here in its best non-pejorative sense, and I use it as someone who has written my fair share of propaganda over the years. It is the use of words and images to convey the message of our side and win over adherents and allies. In the case of North Korea, such pro-DPRK propaganda is badly needed, for in this country we're subjected to an endless barrage of anti-DPRK propaganda. Much of it is it amazingly crude and vapid, like the constant ridicule of Kim Jong-Il's haircut, of all inane things. Much of it is out and out lies, about famine and police state repression and so on--but since the United States maintains an illegal, murderous blockade against the DPRK that makes it almost impossible for U.S. residents to travel there and see the reality for themselves and also blocks any pro-DPRK material from reaching people here, this campaign of smears steamrolls ever forward. (See last week's New Yorker for an unbelievably long article filled with same.) So. Don't dismiss this (especially not the singing, for everyone I know who's been to the DPRK raves about how central singing is to the culture, how everyone sings together all the time and it is the most joyous communal expression of the human spirit)--don't dismiss this as a puff piece. Sure, its purpose is to counter the relentless wave of slander. Good! What's wrong with that? Keep this in mind: It is also a message from the descendants of the great revolutionary generation that, led by Kim Il Sung, rose up against poverty and oppression and nearly took back their country, against which revolution the U.S. invaded and slaughtered millions of Koreans. At the end of that war, the revolution had held on to the north but imperialism occupied the south--and does to this day, to the tune of some 30,000 occupying U.S. troops. Let's welcome, then, this message from the young generation of socialist Korea.