Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions
Prereq: Read the WSWS.ORG
World capitalist order, established by the US at the end of World War II and based on its economic hegemony, has crashed and the United States is at the center of economic and political convulsions. The American ruling elite is trying to reverse its long-term economic decline through frenetic military interventions in Ukraine, the Middle East and elsewhere, and by exporting its crisis to competitors. Collapse of the Soviet Union and other so-called "socialist" states has exacerbated rivalries among the advanced capitalist countries and flashpoints of future wars are growing around the world.
Contact: Felix Kreisel, NW21-109, 617 253-8625, FJK@MIT.EDU
From Greece, to Russia, to the US, capitalism is characterized by widening inequality as governments redirect resources to enrich a tiny elite, impoverish the working class and reverse social gains of the past century. In response we see an eruption of mass struggles: the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, etc. Class struggle to oppose capitalist dictatorship is again the driving force of history.
The United States, Germany and their friends staged a coup in Kiev a year ago to bring this country firmly into the orbit of the West. The "democratic" West used local fascists and Nazis to destabilize the country and plunge it into a civil war. Nato is now on the borders of Russia, and for the third time in a century Ukraine is becoming a field of battle.
We shall introduce and view a documentary film "Tsar to Lenin", with original footage from the Russian Revolution. The preview can be seen here: http://tsartolenin.com/ The film will be followed by discussion. Suggested reading: Trotsky's "History of the Russian Revolution".
We shall review the history of the Soviet state over its 74-year lifetime, examine its internal contradictions, great strides forward, achievements and bitter defeats, the ruling Stalinist regime's crimes against its own people and its betrayal of socialism. We shall examine the collapse of the USSR and suggest lessons for the future. Suggested reading: Leon Trotsky's "The Revolution Betrayed".
What is the balance sheet of capitalist restoration in the former Soviet Union after its demise? While high oil and gas prices have propped up the Putin regime and the energy exporting Russian economy, its overall health is fragile. Ukraine has little oil and its decline is more dramatic. We shall examine the economic, political and social trends and see where Russia and the other successor states are heading.
Prosperity and stability under capitalism are impossible; world politics is characterized by wars, plagues, destruction of whole societies, militarism and preparation of new wars. Social inequality grows in every country and between regions. Humanity is facing a dilemma: socialism or barbarism.