1980s >> 1989 >> no-1017-may-1989

From Russia with profit

Under the heading “Soviet Millionaire’ in free-market fight”, the Daily Telegraph (24 March) gave prominence in their foreign news to the Russian capitalist, Viktor Aksyutich. The newspaper did so on the grounds that he promised to sponsor “free-market candidates” in his country, to fight what he described as “conservative members” of the Russian ruling-class who are currently trying to cling to the state-capitalist monopoly of large-scale production and distribution and its resulting benefits.

 

Another reason for media interest is that Aksyutich is a director of a co-operative in Moscow, one of the consequences of the current reforms there, which has in eleven months of operation created capital of £2.5 million pounds. Indeed, the diversity of this co-operative’s business operations is quite interesting since it includes cement, timber, computers, theatre groups, video shops, religious publications and management schools.

 

After Aksyutich’s meeting with Alan Clark, Minister of Trade, to discuss joint capitalist ventures and current de-regulation in Russia which makes his kind of business operation legal, he told assembled journalists that he is under no illusion as to who are the “real enemy” to his company’s future, naming it as the Russian Communist Party itself.

 

And like all fractional disputes within a ruling-class or the power struggle emanating between those on the periphery of political power and those wielding it for their own purposes, Aksyutich, and those like him who want political representation as a means to articulate their propertied interests, are now committed “to use our financial muscle to sponsor candidates for future elections”. So in a manner reminiscent of Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, Aksyutich and other “closet capitalists”, as the Telegraph called them, must search for a political party. Glasnost and Perestroika are seen as instruments in this process.

 

Workers in Russia should pay close attention to this struggle for political power and the representation demanded by new legal forms of private business, no matter what they are called, and learn from history to have nothing to do with it. Glasnost and Perestroika are structural reforms within Russian capitalism and have nothing to do with the interests of the Russian working-class. Private capitalism, whether co-operative or corporate on the one hand, or state capitalism on the other, all exploit workers within the degradation and servility of the wages system. Instead, workers in Russia, and those elsewhere in the world should, where possible, organise politically in their own socialist parties and rapidly push the class struggle to its final conclusion with the abolition of world capitalism itself and its replacement with Socialism.

 

Richard Lloyd