Category: Resources

How accurate is the narrative of the Winter Wa…

How accurate is the narrative of the Winter War being a Soviet war of conquest?

pretty inaccurate. while most history in english of the period minimizes finnish-nazi collaboration and demonizes the soviets, even a cursory reading of the available evidence disproves that narrative. while legally it might have been a war of conquest (assuming a soviet false flag) the geopolitical and military circumstances of the conflict provide a lot of justification for the ussr’s actions.

if you want a tl;dr, the right-wing finnish government posed a clear threat to the ussr, and the winter war can predominantly be seen as a necessary war that was demanded by the exigencies of capitalist aggression.

firstly, we have to remember that the government of finland, effectively headed by a brutally reactionary tsarist officer, was literally founded amongst the corpses of thousands of finnish communists, a large portion of whom were murdered by german intervention forces. often the finnish reds are depicted as being backed by  the bolsheviks; this is horseshit as bolshevik material support was nonexistent due to the demands of the russian civil war. while the minutiae of finnish internal politics are beyond me, purges of finnish communists continued well into the 1930s, and the finns cooperated extensively with the right-wing governments of both sweden and estonia. on top of that, raids into russian-held karelia were very common in the 20s, and large portions of the finnish government fantasized about invading the ussr and creating a greater finland. the simple truth of the matter is that these kinds of anti-communist governments will, whatever the legal fictions they hide behind, stop at nothing to sabotage revolutions and bring down workers’ movements, and the finns proved themselves to be reactionaries pare excellence. in spite of all this, though, the soviets signed repeated non-aggression pacts with the finns, and even attempted to open up bilateral trade without much success.

secondly, regardless of the intentions of the finnish government, both their actions and the geographic realities of the region meant that finland posed a clear and present danger to the soviet union. starting in the 1920s, finland built a series of fortifications along the border with the ussr, appropriately named after that tsarist officer (mannerheim) i mentioned above. while that area did constitute a natural chokepoint, making it the best location for a defensive line, it also happened to be very close to the incredibly vital city of leningrad. those fortifications would not only constrain soviet operations in the region, but also provide a perfect shield and jumping off-point for an invasion of the most vulnerable and important area in the entire ussr. obviously, the soviets were extremely concerned about this, as
it would be trivial for even a small german force to attack from behind the mannerheim line and encricle leningrad. given their (justifiable) perception of the finnish governenment as brutally reactionary, and the obvious fact that war was coming, the security of leningrad had to be guaranteed. whether or not the mannerheim line was intended to threaten leningrad is of course impossible to ascertain, but it seems likely to me. while the finns trumpeted their neutrality, the ease with which they joined the nazis speaks for itself. anna louise strong also claims that finnish mobilization long predates the winter war, and that the nazis built a massive network of airbases in finland (far in excess of what the finnish air force needed) presumably to attack the ussr with, but i can’t find verification or denial of either of those claims.

in spite of all that, however, the soviets were still very conciliatory to the finns.
before the winter war started, the soviets attempted to negotiate a
trade of territory with the finns. if the finns abandoned the mannerheim
line and the territory around it (most of which was worthless), ceded a
few islands and let the ussr lease a port in southwestern finland, the soviets would give them an amount of territory in karelia easily twice the size of what the finns would give up. while the deal would open up finland to soviet invasion, the idea that the ussr would waste valuable resources in the face of an imminent war with germany, after having secured the approaches to leningrad, is ridiculous. the finns could very easily have accepted this deal, and the winter war need never have happened. the fact that they didn’t also implies what i assert above: the finnish goverment had as its goal the destruction of the ussr, and the winter war was a necessary measure to safeguard the revolution. even after the soviet victory, with finland at their mercy, the soviets merely took a large chunk of finnish industry, stopping short of regime change, humiliation, or permanent demilitarization. right-wing historians often claim that the soviets secretly wanted to conquer all of finland out of a vague imperialistic lust, but given the ease which with finland could have been assimiliated in either 1940 or 1944, this is obviously nonsense.

all in all, then, it’s pretty clear that the main causes of the winter war weren’t a soviet lust for conquest or imperial nostaliga, but rather finnish revanchism and the clear military threat posed to the soviet union. while a more conciliatory soviet policy and a different approach to the molotov-ribbentrop pact could have lead to peace, mannerheim’s obvious hatred of communism and the bitter memory of the finnish civil war probably meant that soviet leaders simply didn’t trust the finns enough to do so.

two codas: firstly, the narrative of horrific soviet incompetence during the winter war is only partially true. everyone obsesses over the first phase of the winter war, where the soviets did get cut to pieces by the finns, albeit in the face of massive logistical and environmental constraints. however, during the second phase of the war (only a few months later) the soviets managed to fix most of their problems and handily beat the finns despite their massive casualties secondly, no-one ever talks about the continuation war, wherein the finns provided massive amounts of vital nickel and logistical support to the nazis while consistently harassed the soviets after taking back their losses. while (alledgedly) the finns didn’t hand over many jews to the nazis, im sure the germans were still pretty happy with that deal.

thanks for the question!

How accurate is the narrative of the Winter Wa…

How accurate is the narrative of the Winter War being a Soviet war of conquest?

pretty inaccurate. while most history in english of the period minimizes finnish-nazi collaboration and demonizes the soviets, even a cursory reading of the available evidence disproves that narrative. while legally it might have been a war of conquest (assuming a soviet false flag) the geopolitical and military circumstances of the conflict provide a lot of justification for the ussr’s actions.

if you want a tl;dr, the right-wing finnish government posed a clear threat to the ussr, and the winter war can predominantly be seen as a necessary war that was demanded by the exigencies of capitalist aggression.

firstly, we have to remember that the government of finland, effectively headed by a brutally reactionary tsarist officer, was literally founded amongst the corpses of thousands of finnish communists, a large portion of whom were murdered by german intervention forces. often the finnish reds are depicted as being backed by  the bolsheviks; this is horseshit as bolshevik material support was nonexistent due to the demands of the russian civil war. while the minutiae of finnish internal politics are beyond me, purges of finnish communists continued well into the 1930s, and the finns cooperated extensively with the right-wing governments of both sweden and estonia. on top of that, raids into russian-held karelia were very common in the 20s, and large portions of the finnish government fantasized about invading the ussr and creating a greater finland. the simple truth of the matter is that these kinds of anti-communist governments will, whatever the legal fictions they hide behind, stop at nothing to sabotage revolutions and bring down workers’ movements, and the finns proved themselves to be reactionaries pare excellence. in spite of all this, though, the soviets signed repeated non-aggression pacts with the finns, and even attempted to open up bilateral trade without much success.

secondly, regardless of the intentions of the finnish government, both their actions and the geographic realities of the region meant that finland posed a clear and present danger to the soviet union. starting in the 1920s, finland built a series of fortifications along the border with the ussr, appropriately named after that tsarist officer (mannerheim) i mentioned above. while that area did constitute a natural chokepoint, making it the best location for a defensive line, it also happened to be very close to the incredibly vital city of leningrad. those fortifications would not only constrain soviet operations in the region, but also provide a perfect shield and jumping off-point for an invasion of the most vulnerable and important area in the entire ussr. obviously, the soviets were extremely concerned about this, as
it would be trivial for even a small german force to attack from behind the mannerheim line and encricle leningrad. given their (justifiable) perception of the finnish governenment as brutally reactionary, and the obvious fact that war was coming, the security of leningrad had to be guaranteed. whether or not the mannerheim line was intended to threaten leningrad is of course impossible to ascertain, but it seems likely to me. while the finns trumpeted their neutrality, the ease with which they joined the nazis speaks for itself. anna louise strong also claims that finnish mobilization long predates the winter war, and that the nazis built a massive network of airbases in finland (far in excess of what the finnish air force needed) presumably to attack the ussr with, but i can’t find verification or denial of either of those claims.

in spite of all that, however, the soviets were still very conciliatory to the finns.
before the winter war started, the soviets attempted to negotiate a
trade of territory with the finns. if the finns abandoned the mannerheim
line and the territory around it (most of which was worthless), ceded a
few islands and let the ussr lease a port in southwestern finland, the soviets would give them an amount of territory in karelia easily twice the size of what the finns would give up. while the deal would open up finland to soviet invasion, the idea that the ussr would waste valuable resources in the face of an imminent war with germany, after having secured the approaches to leningrad, is ridiculous. the finns could very easily have accepted this deal, and the winter war need never have happened. the fact that they didn’t also implies what i assert above: the finnish goverment had as its goal the destruction of the ussr, and the winter war was a necessary measure to safeguard the revolution. even after the soviet victory, with finland at their mercy, the soviets merely took a large chunk of finnish industry, stopping short of regime change, humiliation, or permanent demilitarization. right-wing historians often claim that the soviets secretly wanted to conquer all of finland out of a vague imperialistic lust, but given the ease which with finland could have been assimiliated in either 1940 or 1944, this is obviously nonsense.

all in all, then, it’s pretty clear that the main causes of the winter war weren’t a soviet lust for conquest or imperial nostaliga, but rather finnish revanchism and the clear military threat posed to the soviet union. while a more conciliatory soviet policy and a different approach to the molotov-ribbentrop pact could have lead to peace, mannerheim’s obvious hatred of communism and the bitter memory of the finnish civil war probably meant that soviet leaders simply didn’t trust the finns enough to do so.

two codas: firstly, the narrative of horrific soviet incompetence during the winter war is only partially true. everyone obsesses over the first phase of the winter war, where the soviets did get cut to pieces by the finns, albeit in the face of massive logistical and environmental constraints. however, during the second phase of the war (only a few months later) the soviets managed to fix most of their problems and handily beat the finns despite their massive casualties secondly, no-one ever talks about the continuation war, wherein the finns provided massive amounts of vital nickel and logistical support to the nazis while consistently harassed the soviets after taking back their losses. while (alledgedly) the finns didn’t hand over many jews to the nazis, im sure the germans were still pretty happy with that deal.

thanks for the question!

Anti-Eurocentrism & the Critique of Settler Co…

Anti-Eurocentrism & the Critique of Settler Colonialism:

shit-tankies-say:

This is a greatly expanded and updated version of the article from earlier this year, ”Third Worldism”, the Workers World Party & the General Marxist Failure on Settler Colonialism

“Again drawing links from Gordon (2018), I argue that further, the rejection of settler colonial critique, anti-Eurocentric political economy, as well as the many critiques that have been levied by many from within the Black radical tradition, by many Marxist-Leninists and Marxist-Leninist-Maoists is hard, if not impossible, to separate from the idea that it would be an injustice imposed upon the white/settler/master worker to return Indigenous land, abolish the oppression and exploitation of African people worldwide and to smash global imperialist parasitism.

This is because at the uninterrogated heart of their worldview is the idea that it is fundamentally just for that worker at the heart of the modern/colonial/capitalist world-system to have not only what they already do, but to struggle to have more. Indeed the essential injustice of the capitalist system is precisely that they do not have more due to the exploitation of their labour in the generation of value in the capital circuit of the world-economy. Thus, because of the ineluctable link between what that worker has, as well as their potential to accumulate more, and the processes of ongoing Indigenous genocide and dispossession, ongoing anti-black racism and the colonization and enslavement of African people, and the ongoing parasitism of the imperialist nations on the colonized world it is an injustice to call for those structures to be overturned in the most revolutionary fashion possible through radical decolonial and abolitionist struggle.


This is white power chauvinism in the raw. Further, it is important to recognize that it does not matter if the person making the argument is white or Red, Black or Brown. This is why the critique of what many of us refer to as the “white left” holds no matter the supposed multinational formation of most of the mainstream Marxist/communist movement in Occupied Turtle Island.”

If South Korea is a colony of the U.S., as you…

If South Korea is a colony of the U.S., as you claim, how come it's not only richer but more developed than the DPRK?

Since 1964, under the fascist dictatorship of Park Chung Hee, south Korea’s economic policy shifted from import-substitution industrialisation (ISI) to export-oriented industrialisation (EOI). The former was attempted by every third world country – the development of an internal market as access to external markets was denied by imperialism and capitalists’ lack of interest in purchasing inferior quality goods from governments considered “hostile.”

In south Korea ISI was an absolute failure, leading to the adoption of EOI as amerikan markets saw an opportunity in profiteering from south Korean labour without much consideration to the political aspect – at the end of the day what mattered was the almighty dollar. However south Korea’s exports were not competitive enough.

The solution to this problem was a combination of establishing an economy based on labour-intensive industries with specific capital-intensive industries receiving substantial subsidies, direct foreign capital investment from both the u.$. and Japan, and exclusive military contracts during war periods (such as the Vietnam War).

In other words, south Korea’s economic development was achieved through selling out Korea, the third world, and benefiting from amerikan patronage. This however became unsustainable for the u.$. as it reached a point where it could no longer afford such generous subsidies and favourable exchange rates.

What is also important to emphasise is that south Korea was among the first countries to shift how imperialism functioned during Lenin’s timecentred around the export of capital and the import of raw materials – to the imperialism of our current times which is centred around the export of production and the import of surplus value.

While advanced production by low waged workers for export to amerikan markets was once an exception, today it is the norm in various countries such as China, Vietnam, India, and so on. Due to this south Korea emerged not as a major imperialist power but as the leader of the semi-periphery with imperialist style corporations such as Samsung, LG, and Hanjin which are nevertheless subordinate to global imperialism.

During the 1980′s workers in south Korea began rebelling against the exploitative nature of the country’s economic policy as well as in reaction to the revelation that most if not all south Korean unions were created and controlled by the u.$. government to prevent the infiltration of any anti-capitalist sentiments. Before 1987 the average hourly wage across industries was at $1.75, meanwhile in the u.$. manufacturing workers earned $13.09 an hour.

With over one million workers going on strike, affecting most major industries, imperialists were forced to concede and raise the wages of south Korean workers to first world levels. It was only at this point that the living conditions of south Korean workers surpassed those of the DPRK, around the 1980′s and 1990′s as the tech market boomed.

All this talk about south Korea being an Asian tiger with high living standards and material abundance is nothing but bourgeois propaganda set on deceiving the world from the harsh realities south Koreans endure to survive. It is for no reason that younger generations refer to country as “Hell Korea” because of youth unemployment, severe economic inequality, excessive working hours, inequality between male and female workers, exploitation of women’s labour, etcetera. Most of south Korea’s elderly population live in abject poverty, and it is not uncommon for people with disabilities to end up in slave style labour camps in rural areas.

Regular

revolutionary-aim:

We recently completely redid our recommended reading section on Anti-Imperialism.org! We have hasty expanded the categories and included many more links to the works included in it. Expect a few more titles to trickle in over the next few weeks as we round up a few that we’ve missed, but definitely check out what’s there.

On The Juche Idea Study Guide

juchechat:

Introduction:

Main Reading:

China: A Modern Social-Imperialist Power, CPI(…

China: A Modern Social-Imperialist Power, CPI(Maoist): undefined

An Exceptional Case? Problematizing Soviet Ant…

An Exceptional Case? Problematizing Soviet Anti-Racism – AAIHS:

universal-equivalents:

This is the best short examination of anti-racism and the Soviet Union I’ve read, with a comment below the article that’s also worth reading. I’ll just quote the first and last paragraphs.

In 1932, African American poet Langston Hughes crossed the Soviet border as part of a group of Black actors invited to the Soviet Union to make an antiracist propaganda film. In his memoir, Hughes described this crossing in almost biblical terms: “In Helsinki, we stayed overnight and the next day we took a train headed for the land … where race prejudice was reported taboo, the land of the Soviets… . When the train stopped [at the border] for passports to be checked, a few of the young black men and women left the train to touch their hands to Soviet soil, lift the new earth in their palms and kiss it.”  That Black visitors to the Soviet Union during the two decades before World War II encountered a society they saw as largely free of racism seems to be borne out by multiple contemporaneous accounts and later memoir literature.

///

As the Soviet Union learned the hard way, simplistic Marxist-Leninist prescriptions rarely worked when addressing the question of race in the United States and across the Third World. The Soviets, it seems, had difficulty connecting to the postcolonial sensibilities of their third world friends and intended beneficiaries. They routinely underestimated and underappreciated the centrality of race in postcolonial discourses, including the very liberation discourse that they claimed to articulate and champion. The presence of third-world people, especially thousands of African students, in the midst of Soviet society, and the idiosyncratic and often unpredictable foreign policy moves by Moscow’s supposed allies and sympathizers in the Third World (not to mention their opponents) defied the Soviet Union’s expectations of forging a “natural” internationalist alliance with non-white populations oppressed and underprivileged by Moscow’s Cold War Western rivals. It is partly in relation to some of these frustrations that one can better understand the intensity of the xenophobic and racist backlash that swept across the former Soviet spaces in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Docs Reveal Pentagon Plan to Destroy USSR, Chi…

Docs Reveal Pentagon Plan to Destroy USSR, China as “Viable Societies” with Nuclear Weapons:

Recently declassified
documents shed light on a U.S. nuclear war plan developed in 1964 by the
Pentagon’s Joint Staff to bomb Russia – then the Soviet Union – and
China with nuclear weapons so extensively that it would destroy them “as
viable societies.” The war plan itself, known as Single Integrated
Operational Plan 64 (SIOP-64), has not been declassified, as no SIOP has
ever been released to the public by the United States government.

However, newly declassified documents that record the Pentagon Joint Staff’s review of SIOP-64 were recently made available
through George Washington University’s National Security Archive
project. The documents reveal numerous details about the
still-classified plan that shine light on the Pentagon’s willingness to
wage nothing short of total war against its adversaries at the time.

In particular, the documents show
that the plan sought to accomplish the destruction of Russian and
Chinese society by targeting and eliminating their industrial potential
while also wiping out the majority of their urban populations. Still
more troubling, urban civilians were proposed to be the main target
and measure of the U.S. nuclear war plan as the Joint Staff sought to
use “population loss as the primary yardstick for effectiveness in
destroying the enemy society, with only collateral attention to
industrial damage.”


This gambit to use population loss as a
“primary yardstick” was notably developed prior to the 1964 meeting
detailed in the newly released document. The meeting considered studies
that had been jointly conducted by the Joint Staff and the Joint
Strategic Target Planning Staff in order to determine how many Soviet
and Chinese cities and industrial areas needed to be wiped out in order
to destroy both countries as “viable societies.”

Juche Korea Leadership: Books

juchechat:

Kim Ilsung:

Kim Jongil:

Kim Jong-suk: