January / February 1990
|Contributors:||Carmel Roulston, Richard Dunphy, Paddy Gillan, Gerard O'Quigley, Hugh Maxton, Triona Dooney, Paul Sweeney, Phelim Kelly, Helena Sheehan|
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This edition of Making Sense from the Workers’ Party joins others in the Archive. This was published in January/February 1990. The cover story – the Left in Europe, addresses the ‘events which have rocked the socialist world’. The editorial – entitled ‘the End of Winter’ – asserts:
1989 was a year of joy and tragedy for socialists. The joy lay in the ending of the harsh winter of Stalinism. The tragedy was that it lasted for so long.
And it continues:
The Stalinist model of socialism was brought to Eastern Europe by the Red Army liberating it from the Nazis. Stalinism was in turn rooted in ‘war communism’ which was born of the Civil War in Russia and the beleaguered Bolsheviks attempts to make a political revolution while simultaneously undertaking an industrial revolution.
It argues that the Stalinist model could not ‘command the respect or support of those it claimed to serve. Democracy went by the board, political life was largely a shame, which the command economy failed to deliver the goods.’
And it suggests that ‘the bright shining vision ofsocialism blinded many socialists to the defects of Stalinism. Many of those who were not so blinded were intimidated into silence and collusion. Others simply sank into either cynicism or despair and were lost to socialism. And those who found tha they could choose neither silence nor cynicism risked liberty and even life itself.
Interestingly it points to Yuri Andropov as the ‘first Soviet leader to fully grasp the true nature of the Stalinist legacy. But it was led to Mikhail Gorbachev to confront the crisis.’
It notes the revolutionary change in Eastern Europe, and arguing that ‘the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe must be recognised for what it was’ quotes Joe Slovo of the South African Communist Party:
‘We have to face up to our failure… these were popular revolts against unpopular regimes. It’s no good complaining this was some kind of capitalist conspiracy. We did all on our own.’
It concludes that:
Socialists must never be blinded to their common humanity. No vision however bright can justify Tiananmen Square or Timisoara. Stalinism is dead. Long live the idea of socialism and the practice of democracy.
Other pieces examine ‘the background to the demise of the old Communist and Allies Group in the European Parliament.’. Paddy Gillan talks to representatives of the resulting three groups in the EP.
There’s a piece on ‘new thinking’ on the British left in the face of a seemingly weakened Thatcherism. And as always there are book reviews.