In December 1987, the Commission on the Exchange of Party Experience, of the International Journal, WORLD MARXIST REVIEW, organised a round-table between researchers from the Social Sciences Institute of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee (SSI) and representatives of parties from different parts of the world.
The SSI collective had presented a paper which, as they said “sought to depart from well-known and self-evident truths and to frame their questions In a deliberately acute manner so as to provoke a lively exchange of views.”
The gathering was very significant from one perspective It was within the ambit of the celebrations of the 76th anniversary of the October Socialist Revolution In Russia. The historical significance, and the new national and International tasks of the Soviet Communists and their comrade from other parts of the world were scientifically reviewed.
The SSI paper was examining the relations of Communists with other democratic, progressive, and peace-loving forces. Bold in Its presentation, this paper took a very polemical look at the basic concepts of world development, which have been at the centre of Marxist-Leminist analysis for decades.
The theoretical Justification for the SSI stance can be traced directly, I think, to the speech of Mikhail Gorbachov, at the Plenary Meeting of the CPSU (Jan 27/28 1987), when he observed that the theoretical concepts of Socialism remained to a large extent at the level of the 1930g and 1940s when society had been tackling entirely different tasks.
Furthermore, in Developing Socialism, the dialectics of the motive forces and contradictions and the actual condition of society did not become the subject of in-depth scientific studies. As a result, scholastic theorizing became the norm, in general. This resulted in a dearth of efforts or attempts to carry out constructive analysis or formulate new ideas.
‘The turning point in the Soviet concept of International Security dates back to the 27th Congress of the Soviet Communists Party. Mikhail Gorbachov’s Political Report evaluated the basic contradictions in the contemporary world.
According to this report, the first and most important group of contradictions in terms of humanity’s future, is connected with the relations between countries of the two systems, the two formations – Capitalism and Socialism. The second group consists of the Intrinsic contradictions of the capitalist world Itself. An acute manifestation of the GENERAL CRISIS of the capitalist system.
Coming next in this group of the contemporary world’s contradictions Is the one between Labour and Capital, with the gIgantic growth in the power of Transnational Corporations. This was within the ambit of growing INTRA-Imperialist rivalries, that could not be removed by factors such as class affinities or other “unifying” factors.
We are also in an epoch of acute contradiction between the huge powers of the TNCs and the nation-State form of society’s political organization. Among other contradictions are those between developing nations and imperialism and also, Importantly, those on a global scale, affecting the very foundations of the existence of civilization. This la the human stewardship of the environment.
Having painted this wholesome picture of the world, the CPSU then set out to work out its new concept of a secure world. At the core of this policy, is a vigorous struggle against the nuclear threat, against the wind race, and for the preservation and strengthening of Universal peace.
The new Soviet concept of International security is usually summed up In the now familiar phrase of New Thinking.
As they say, It is not something consummate, closed, or Immutable but an Implication of a capacity for perceiving and comprehending new phenomena and seeking new solutions.
There have been many radical departures of note in this region. First, was Mikhail Gorbachov’s statement of Jan- 15, 1986, containing a program for eliminating nuclear weapons by the end of the twentieth century. ‘The first practical manifestation, of this directive, is the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and shorter-range Missiles, which was signed during Gorbachov’s visit to Washington.
Other Innovative developments Included the Vladivostok program for Asia and the Pacific Region, the New Delhi Declaration, the remarkable work at Reykjavik, and the process of removal of regional tension, in the Middle East, Iran-Iraq, Afghanistan, Kampochea, and Southern Africa.
It Is not the smoothness of the process that is its remarkable quality. On the contrary, The new concept is being unfurled in a society of set thinking, dogmatic acceptance of checks and stereotypes as well as the formidable opposition of the hot hands of the most reactionary circles of the Imperialist Military-Industrial Complex.
But even in the elaboration of the New Soviet concepts, we also find some discomfiture. The report presented by Mikhail Gorbachov on the 70th. The anniversary of the October revolution is an Interesting case in point. Under the heading “The October Revolution and Today’s World”, he raised a number of questions that were not answered.
The first question relates to the nature of Imperialism. Of course, he acknowledges 1t as the source of the war threat. However, Gorbachov asks “Given the current stage of the world’s development and the new level of 1ts Interdependence and Integration, is it possible to Influence that nature and block Its more dangerous manifestations?”
Not only that: “Can one count on the laws operating in the Integral world, in which universal human values have top priority, to restrict the scope of the destructive effects produced by the operation of the egocentric laws which benefit only the ruling uses and are only basic to the capitalist system?
Gorbachov also whether or not, capitalism can get rid of militarism and function and develop in the economic sphere without It. Finally, can this system do without neucolonial1am which is currently one of the factors essential to its survival?
It is at this point, that we return to the paper of the SSI, at the Prague round table. The same questions and others related to them were formulated for the lively exchange. For Instance, there was the question of the attitude to Revolutionary violence, in the overthrow of the reactionary order. Or the attitude to the class adversely, In the context of the struggle for human survival.
From different parts of the world, responses have been naturally, varied. On the Issue of Militarism, a researcher pointed out, that in the federal Republic or Germany for instance, the war Industry was not an independent economic sector. it is neither a closed faction nor a component of big business, which is controlled by the largest financial grouping, the Deutsche Bank. It is this link with financial capital, which explains their strong Influence on State policy.
A prospective answer to the question raised by Gorbachov therefore, is the need for a thorough study and formulation of concrete alternatives to the military,-industrial complex. This needs to be complemented with a well-thought-out concept of bridging militarism and dismantling the military-industrial complex.
This presupposes the extension of democratization of society and vast segments of the imperialist economies. It means the greater hegemony of the working people’s politics. But can this prospect materialize, without revolutionary upheavals?
It seems to us unthinkable, that imperialism can be what it is, without the neo-colonial nature of our own societies. Was the contradiction between imperialism and the developing countries not identified as one of the major contradictions of the present world?
The struggle against neo-colonialism means the struggle for the Independent development of our national productive forces. It is a struggle for the achievement of a wholesome cultural revolution In underdeveloped, societies, the tapping of the achievements of the Scientific and Technical Revolution, and finally for our entrance onto the stage of history as equal participation.
This la a direct negation of the present unequal relationship with imperialism. Can we begin to fathom a situation whereby Imperialism “Let’s go”, voluntarily? Can the dismantling of neo-colonialism come about, except with the deepening of democratic changes at the imperialist centre, the struggles in the neo-colonies themselves, and the strengthening of the appeal of real socialism?
To sum up. The Soviet concept of International Security cannot be seen or understood simplistically. It has behind it, the total political praxis, and theoretical generalizations, of the past 72 years of socialist construction, and the new trends of world development.
We can discern the continued relevance of the struggles of the working class, the national liberation movement and democratic forces. This is against both the nuclear catastrophe and the solution to the pressing social, political, economic, and cultural problems. After all, the enemies of peace, the enemies of human survival, and the enemies of the working people are ultimately the same set of forces.
However, the complexities of the present work, the entry of more and more people – of different classes, and the emergence of greater Interdependence all call for not-dogmatic strategic and tactical moves In thinking by peoples and nations. It la quite a complicated process, but it is in our distillation of the New Soviet Concept of International Security.