PRIME Minister Vladimir Putin is currently acting like a frantic one man fire brigade seeking to hose down the growing anger of the Russian workers at the way that his bourgeois policies have opened up Russia to the full impact of the world wide capitalist crisis.
The first casualties of this crisis have been Putin’s right-wing allies. These are the Oligarchs who came out of the Communist Party and bought up state property for a pittance at the time when Yeltsin was giving it away.
The Putin deal with them was that if they accepted the Kremlin’s right to rule, then their bourgeois enrichment would be tolerated, encouraged and assisted by the Stalinist bureaucracy.
They have been ruined by the crash and have been unable to pay workers wages. This has created a growing flood of strikes, occupations, rail and road blockades and the emergence of workers’ councils in a number of areas demanding that the former state property be renationalised.
This has led to Putin criss-crossing Russia telling the Oligarchs that if they do not pay the owed wages, the state will renationalise them.
Putin has also taken to swooping down on the Moscow private supermarkets, inspecting their prices and cutting them on the spot, condemning the private owners for profiteering.
All over Russia the working class is now boiling over with anger, to the point where the Stalinist bureaucracy is getting ready for regional uprisings and revolts by workers.
There is even now a powerful workers movement sweeping through the Russian Federation, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus calling for the restoration of the USSR.
Even in the Baltic States both Russian and Baltic workers have been shattered by the capitalist crisis, where 20 per cent unemployment and ruin is the rule.
Workers say that they have now been in two unions, the Soviet Union and the European Union and that under the latter all that they have acquired is collective ruin, while under the USSR there was work and a sustained economy.
The Russian and Soviet workers are as well being encouraged by the eruption of workers’ struggles all over the capitalist world.
They can see that the working class movement of the world is being pushed forward by the world capitalist crisis, putting material flesh and blood into the concept of the struggle for the victory of the world socialist revolution.
Trotsky wrote in 1938 in the Transitional Programme that ‘The USSR thus embodies terrific contradictions. But it still remains a degenerated workers state. Such is the social diagnosis. The political prognosis has an alternative character: either the bureaucracy, becoming ever more the organ of the world bourgeoisie in the workers state, will overthrow the new forms of property and plunge the country back to capitalism; or the working class will crush the bureaucracy and open the way to socialism.’
In the 1990s under Gorbachev and Yeltsin, the Stalinist bureaucracy made a most determined effort to plunge the country back to capitalism, with the ‘shock therapy’ tactic of Gaydar.
The working class, however, resisted and threatened political revolution. When Yeltsin went, the Berezovskiy wing of the Oligarchs was driven into exile in London.
Putin emerged to balance between the new bourgeoisie and the working class, while at the same time seeking to integrate Russia into the world capitalist economy.
The capitalist world crisis has smashed this balancing act. Putin’s policies are discredited. The Russian workers are on the march again at the same time as the workers in the most advanced countries. The Russian political revolution to overthrow the bureaucracy and its oligarch allies will be a major part of the world socialist revolution, begun in 1917 and which will be completed in the period ahead.