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20 years after fall of Berlin Wall, capitalist triumphalism turns rotten
THE WORLD'S leading politicians, past and present, gathered in Berlin this week to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. The Wall was the physical barrier dividing the German city of Berlin and which symbolised the division of the world between western capitalism and the Stalinist dictatorships of the Soviet Union and the eastern bloc countries.
Most of their speeches, and the acres of newsprint devoted to the subject, can be summarised as saying: 'Capitalism good; communism bad'.
This is despite the fact that capitalism is undergoing its most severe crisis since world war two and that the dictatorships in the east were not 'communist' or 'socialist'. Still, why let facts get in the way of a story!
Moreover, these 'leaders' remained somewhat coy about remembering the recent 80th anniversary of the Wall Street crash. Not surprising, given the current devastating economic crisis that is afflicting the majority of the world's population.
In contrast to the Berlin 'celebration' Socialist Party members and trade union and community activists, gathered in London last weekend (see centre pages) to discuss, amongst other subjects, the causes and consequences for the working class and the workers' movement internationally of the collapse of Stalinism and the restoration of capitalism.
It was the bureaucratic impasse of these societies that pushed the working masses of these countries to protest and to seek a political alternative.
Tragically, in the absence of significant and politically conscious democratic socialist movements, there was a headlong rush into market-oriented societies. This has typically resulted in the emergence of ruthless capitalist ruling elites, a widening of inequality and the demise of social welfare provision in the former eastern bloc.
Politically, in the west, the seeming ideological triumph of capitalism has contributed, in the last two decades, to a shift to the right by leaders of the former social democratic workers' parties and trade unions.
However, the current global financial crisis has reminded the world that capitalism is a cyclical system of boom and bust and that unless it is consciously changed along genuine socialist lines by a movement of the working class then unemployment, poverty and environmental destruction will continue to plague the world.
For a comprehensive analysis of the collapse of Stalinism 20 years ago and its political legacy, read Peter Taaffe's article 'History: Stalinism and after' in this month's Socialism Today (see advert below), or read online at, www.socialistworld.net
See also on this website: 80th anniversary of the Wall Street crash - capitalist failure then and now.
Socialism Today, November 2009
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In The Socialist 11 November 2009:
War and occupation
Postal workers strike
Defend the four campaign
Campaign for a New Workers Party
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party review