HISTORY has played a huge joke on the Stalinist bureaucracy.
Under the rule of Gorbachev and Yeltsin it thought that it would be able to restore capitalism and rejoin what it termed ‘the modern world’ in some style.
Particularly under Yeltsin, minor bureaucrats became billionaires overnight, as they seized hold of nationalised industries for a pittance, and proclaimed along with their shock therapists that they would restore capitalism in a hundred days.
However, the working class would not have it, and fought back, forcing Yeltsin’s chosen successor Putin to renationalise whole sections of industry, and drive the openly pro-US wing of the oligarchs into exile or jail, out of fear of a working class political revolution restoring the power of the soviets.
Putin established a Bonapartist regime, which balanced above society with one foot on the working class and one foot on the pro-Stalinist oligarchs.
However as the crash of the Russian stock markets and the private banks in the late 1990s showed, the bureaucracy was striking out for capitalism right at the point where the crisis of capitalism was emerging with volcanic destructive force.
This crash, like the collapse of the dot-com bubble in 2001, were mere seismic premonitions of the enormous collapse of the capitalist world banking system. This is now taking place with the wiping out, in the most advanced countries, such as the US and Japan, of some of the most modern sections of the productive forces.
The banking and industrial crash has more than decimated the Russian oligarchs. The number of Russian billionaires has more than halved in the past year.
Last year there were 101 US-dollar billionaires, and Russia was second only to the United States in this regard. Now there are 49 left.
Russia’s richest man, Oleg Derepaska, has had more than $US30 billion wiped off his fortune, and has been left with ‘just’ under $US5 billion.
Empires that were built on huge borrowings are gripped by enormous debts and rapidly shrinking assets.
Meanwhile, the Russian working class is demanding that the assets of the oligarchs be expropriated. Putin is alarmed that his right prop is being rapidly weakened and his regime has become unbalanced.
His reaction has been to spend tens of billions of dollars propping up the oligarchs.
However the further development of the financial and industrial crisis, especially the rapid growth of Russian unemployment, will rapidly lead to a revolutionary movement to expropriate the new bourgeoisie and reinstate the Gosplan and the Soviet planned economy, and rule through soviets.
The capitalist world crisis has laid waste not just to the Russian bureaucrats and new bourgeoisie but also to their Ukrainian opposite numbers who had ambitions to join the EU and NATO.
Ukrainian inflation is absolutely out of control, while the finance minister has resigned and the IMF has refused to pay the next installment of its £11.5 billion loan to the Ukrainian government.
Ukrainian GDP has collapsed by 20 per cent over the last year.
While the Ukrainian workers are getting angrier and angrier, the western capitalists are frightened that the Ukraine will default on its foreign debt, which will lead to defaults throughout the Baltic states and the Balkans.
Eastern Europe has a $US1.80 trillion foreign debt with the Western European banks, the major lenders.
Workers in the Soviet Republics and in eastern Europe are faced not with joining world capitalism, but with taking part in its abolition, along with the workers of the world, by carrying forward the world socialist revolution to its victory.