During a meeting on 10th September, the Board of Directors of the National Capital Commission granted its approval to erect a monument to the victims of “Communism”. As Marxists, we are very much aware of the horrible crimes that were committed by Stalinists all over the world. But, those crimes were not the actions of communism, but rather the despicable crimes of a totalitarian bureaucracy that arose because of the isolation and backward conditions that existed in the Soviet Union.
This bureaucracy only paid lip-service to the ideas of Bolshevism; in the meantime, it imprisoned or executed workers that fought for the genuine ideas of socialism because they were seen as a threat to the bureaucracy’s own self-interests. Likewise, the “socialist” countries that arose later also mirrored the bureaucratic degeneration of the USSR. In fact, it was the most committed Marxists and socialists, particularly those that defended the ideas of Leon Trotsky, who were the first targets of the Stalinist bureaucracies. By 1940, not one of the leading Bolsheviks who fought in the October Revolution (aside from Stalin) was left. Ironically, it was the capitalist countries (who now condemn the “crimes of Communism”) who turned their eyes away from these murders and sought to work with the Stalinist bureaucracies.
What is puzzling is the timing of such a monument. Seemingly out of nowhere, why would the Canadian state suddenly now remember the crimes of Stalinism? Why not create this monument 20 years ago? Weren’t we all told that communism had failed and that we had witnessed the “end of history?”
The answer to these questions is that today, the bosses need to discredit the ideas of Marxism more than ever before. In the past year, the crisis of capitalism has forced many Canadian workers and youth to realize how bankrupt the capitalist system is. They saw that the government bailed out the banks and corporations; meanwhile, there was no bailout to workers who lost their jobs and saw their living standards drop. While governments cry poor and prepare to cut healthcare and social services, the federal government is still able to find billions of dollars for the occupation of Afghanistan. With Harper’s now annual tradition of proroguing Parliament, workers and youth are also beginning to see the sham that is bourgeois democracy. Naturally, they will try to look for alternatives to capitalism, such as the genuine ideas of socialism and Marxism.
It is clear that the state is trying even harder to discredit the ideas of socialism and communism by associating them with the crimes of Stalinism. The fall of the Berlin Wall was 20 years ago; this means that an entire new generation of youth do not automatically associate Marxism with Stalinism. They are much more open to reading the actual ideas rather than coming up with preconceived notions. It is important for the bosses to try to stop this.
We know that the collapse of Stalinism was not the “end of history.” As long as society is divided into classes with completely different interests, there will be class struggle! As long as the capitalist system exists, with its exploitation, wars, poverty, and unemployment, the ideas of Marxism will be there as a tool in our fight for a better world, a socialist world!