Old habits

Communist press

As the election looms in Russia, numerous leftwing groups and organisations have been attempting to grapple with the phenomenon of Gennady Zyuganov. Interestingly, in those organisations which claim allegiance to Trotskyism - to one degree or another, in some shape or form - you can see wildly divergent views.

Workers News, publication of the Workers International League, transposes its ‘Vote Labour, but ...’ stance almost directly onto Russia, with Zyuganov’s Communist Party of the Russian Federation acting as a sort of substitute for the Labour Party - if you really stretch your definitions. Thus, it has to admit that the CPRF “scarcely resembles a traditional workers’ party ... However significant sections of workers - however misguidedly - see it as representing a limited defence against the effects of capitalist restoration ... For this reason a critical vote for the CPRF should be advocated” (May-June). Vote CPRF, but ...

With robotic predictability, Workers Power also trots out such a line. It states that the CPRF is an “instrument of pressure for workers’ immediate needs and demands” and defines it as a “variant of what Marxists term a bourgeois workers’ party” (original italics, June). Very optimistically, WP believes that a “tactical vote will expose Zyuganov and the CPRF as falsely anti-capitalist and open the millions of its supporters to a real communist - a Trotskyist - alternative”. Now where have I heard all this before?

International Worker, organ of the International Communist Party, has no time for the CPRF. Probably getting nearer the truth, it dismisses Zyuganov as a “third-rate Stalinist official”, who employs populist demagogy which is “largely of a nationalist, anti-Semitic and semi-fascist character” (June 1). International Worker observes that the Russian workers “are every bit as politically disenfranchised as their class brothers and sisters in Britain”. Definitely no vote for the CPRF, as far as the ICP are concerned.

Socialist Worker alsotakes such a view. In its letters page, a SWP supporter writes, correctly, that “Zyuganov was one of the pioneers of the CP’s links with the far right nationalists in the ‘Red-Brown’ alliance” (June 8), something SW has regularly pointed to.

Alternatively, there is always the Morning Star, which recently reprinted without comment Zyuganov’s presidential manifesto, where he describes the state as a “stalwart of free labour for millions who organise their life on their own” (June 3).

Old habits die hard.

Don Preston