U.S. communist press and the "August Revolution"
A look at five communist newspapers around the U.S. and how each views the events in the Soviet Union
The almost unbelievable pace of recent events in the Soviet Union has prompted celebratory headlines across the United States announcing the death of communism.
The "August Revolution" has, however, evoked a strikingly different response from a sector of the press which operates on the margins of the mainstream--the communist press in the United States.
Communist newspapers, with their revolutionary political stance and adversarial relationship to the mainstream press, have existed in the U.S. since the 1920s. Since that time, they have put forth the basic tenet of Marxism--that capitalism is an economic system riddled with contradictions that will lead to its downfall--and held up a model of socialist society as an ideal.
Considering the Soviet Union's historical role as the center of world communism, one would expect the "August Revolution" to have tremendous repercussions for publications which espouse the virtues of socialism.
A survey of five prominent communist newspapers offers a glimpse into their radical politics and reveals that the responses of these newspapers to the events of Aug. 19-24 are as surprising as they are diverse. They range from harsh condemnation of the coup and the Soviet Union's Communist Party (CPSU) to calls for crackdowns against "capitalist counterrevolutionaries."
"The events in the Soviet Union do not represent the collapse or death of communism," says Carl Dicks, spokesman for the Revolutionary Communist Party, U.S.A., whose publication is the Revolutionary Worker. "The Soviet Union hasn't been communist for thirty years."
The Revolutionary Worker is a Chicago-based weekly founded in 1975. It claims a national circulation between 9,000-12,000. The paper's editors maintain their commitment to communist principles despite the events of August 19-24. While they praise the Soviet people, they have nothing but contempt for that country's Communist Party, which, they maintain, sold out the goals of the 1917 Revolution long ago.
"What died in the Soviet Union was phony communism," Dicks insists. "We were glad to see it down."
The editors of the Revolutionary Worker maintain that there was an extremely thin line between the coup leaders and the coalition that defeated them. According to Dicks, the coup was essentially "an internal fight between an imperialist ruling class, all factions of which represented a capitalist solution for the problems in the Soviet Union."
In the Sept. 1 issue, the editors of the Revolutionary Worker blasted mainstream media coverage of the crisis.
"The Western media portrayed the coup as a move by the |last of hard-line Communists' supported by guns and the defeat of the coup as a victory by progressive democrats backed by the people."
According to the Revolutionary Worker, however, "every part of this untrue . . . . [The coup] was a showdown by big-shot exploiters within the Soviet ruling class . . . . All the forces in this showdown--Gorbachev, Yeltsin and the coup makers--are representatives of the same Soviet state-monopoly capitalist ruling class."
The Revolutionary Worker's position on the current situation in the Soviet Union demonstrates contempt for the forces now shaping the country and reads like a call to arms.
"The ruling powers used to call themselves |communists,'" announced a Sept. 1 article. "Now they call themselves Russian nationalists and |democrats'. . . . The peoples of the Soviet Union still need to prepare themselves to make a revolution."
Also critical of the CPSU is The Militant, a New York City-based weekly founded in 1928 by anti-Stalinist Communists who later formed the Socialist Workers Party. The Militant sees the Communist Party in the Soviet Union as bogged down in bureaucracy and at odds with the interests of the Soviet people. …