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Mainstream, VOL LIII, No 20, May 9, 2015

The River of History

Saturday 9 May 2015, by Nikhil Chakravartty

From N.C.’s Writings

This week all the world over is being celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of the victory over fascism. For, this was the week, thirty years ago, when the Hitler war-machine was smashed and the Soviet soldiers hoisted the Red Flag over the war-ravaged Reichstag building in Berlin.

This was a great turning point in the history of humanity. For, it saw the end of an order in which an exploitative power could conquer countries and enslave nations. Hitler was the last of those who could go in for such a venture of world conquest.

Today, thirty years later, we see before our eyes a changed world with a totally different correlation of forces and that is how the Americans with their fearful weapons could not but retreat ignominiously after being decisively defeated by Ho Chi Minh’s followers. From Berlin to Saigon, the thirty years span an entire epoch, which has seen freedom growing from more to more. Out of the crumbling edifice of colonialism has emerged a new constellation of independent nations called the Third World; while the world of socialism itself has emerged as a powerful international system. From a single, embattled Soviet Union, today we witness the frontiers of socialism stretching from the Baltic and the Adriatic to the Pacific and now about to advance towards the Indian Ocean.

For mankind’s triumph over fascism, a very high price had to be paid. Ineveitably the highest contribution in this titanic struggle was made by the Soviet people—from the saga of the starving Leningrad, encircled but unbent, to the death-defying sacrifice of the Soviet soldier in the narrow strip along the Volga at Stalingrad, one is amazed at the capacity of human endeavour: and this miracle was possible because the Soviet people were conscious of the stakes in the war; it was as much a defence of socialism as the determination to extend it to the land and people ready for it.

And the Soviet Union has fought fascism in concert with the patriotic forces all over the world. With its clear-sighted perspective, it did not hesitate to join hands with the Western Powers which had at one time encouraged Hitler and then were themselves threatened by the fascist axis.

Side by side there fought millions all over the world—partisans from the banks of the Seine and the Rhone to those of the Yangtse and the Mekong. In this ordeal of fire, many embraced martyrdom, and in their heart reposed the confidence of the Singing Tomorrows, as Gabriel Peri, the French Communist leader, said as he faced the Nazi firing squad.

But the death of Hitler did not mark the end of fascism. Unable to prevent the triumph of socialism in a whole land-mass stretching from Prague to Peking, the imperialist Reaction hatched new plans in the hope of rolling back this tide of history. Churchill, who in his early twenties led the unholy crusade against the new-born Soviet state, was in the forties forced to shower praises on the valour of the Red Army.

And peace returned after the vanquishing of the fascist armies both in the West and the East, the very same Churchill declared a new kind of war against the Soviet Union—the Cold War. The socialist camp was sought to be encircled by a ring of military blocs, and the countries which joined these blocs were reduced to vassals of the Union States.

Against this rose a new awareness among the newly independent countries. Jealously guarding their hard-won freedom, many of these countries could see through the new imperialist strategy. India under Jawaharlal Nehru could foresee the danger as well as the futility of the US power-bloc policies; and out of this consciousness of the new balance of world forces came the strategy of non-alignment.

From their own experience, these countries realised that in the task of rebuilding their economy and guarding their independence, one could not rely on the Western powers and they found reliable allies in the Soviet Union and the other socialist states. As Lenin had once predicted, these countries throwing away their colonial yoke, ceased to be the reserves of the imperialist powers, to become the friends and allies of the socialist world.

The wisdom of this policy of non-alignment has been amply vindicated in the last two decades just as the bankruptcy of the policy of military blocs has been equally forcefully demonstrated. In the United Nations which began with the domination of the US, there has emerged today an overwhelming majority that repudiates the US attempts at new forms of overlordship, some overt and some covert. The Third World, which till the last World War was fleeced by the Western powers for cheap raw materials and an imposed market, is today getting conscious of its power that comes out of the possession of national wealth like petroleum as an instrument of policies, which is undermining the domination of the West.

These fast growing constrictions muzzling the Western Powers have seen the intensification of unconcealed contradictions among the impe-rialist powers themselves. The Marshall Plan was supposed to weld the US hegemony over Western Europe; instead emerged the pheno-menon of De Gaulle followed by Brandt’s ostpolitik which, if anything, could not permit the continuation of the Iron Curtain that Churchill and Truman clamped down upon the socialist countries. From nuclear blackmail to the SALT, it has been a continuous retreat, though resisted stubbornly, by the Western Powers.

In the Third World, the attempts to impose neocolonialist fetters have ended in fiasco. Neither in the Arab world nor in the heart of Africa, there is any progress for Uncle Sam even where John Bull has had to quit. And here too the forces of socialism have shown their invincible strength: from Havana to Hanoi, there was no surrender before the mightiest military powers in history. Instead has come its inglorious exit from Indochina, compelled by the new forces of social change represented by the Red Flag.

If the US imperialism has been losing ground, it does not follow ipso facto that the forces of progress have been able to make the maximum use of it. The manner in which China has ranged itself against the socialist world, has come as a breather for the West. In their blind allergy against Moscow, the present rulers in Peking have gone to the extent of urging the strengthening of the NATO and backing all powers, big and small, which are opposed to the friends of the socialist world. If the strategy of détente has helped to muzzle the dogs of war in the West, how much the world as a whole could have advanced in building a new social order, particularly in the Third World, had the Chinese leadership chosen to take its rightful place in the comity of the socialist nations.

These thirty years have seen momentous happenings—with man reaching out to the outer space and harnessing nuclear energy—alongside the persistence of poverty and hunger of millions left over by the old order. And out of the forces that have been fighting for the old order in the name of preserving the status quo, there is always the danger of Reaction rearing its head, in some hideous form or other. The brutal fascist junta in Chile is an example of how the process of liberation can not only be halted but even reversed at times.

In our country, it is the awareness of the positive possibilities of advance in the world today that has to go hand in hand with vigilance against the machinations of Reaction. India, with its vast wealth embedded in its soil and the genius of a great people bursting forth in various departments of knowledge and national pursuits, is faced with the challenge of building a new social order. And it is against this objective that the whole gang of reactionaries have combined.

If this country has to learn any lesson from the historic defeat of fascism thirty years ago, it is this that there could be no chance for a new social order in a situation where good intentions co-exist with sordid corruption. To build a better order for the millions of our people, this nation—its leadership as also all forward-looking political forces—have to unite in a massive endeavour that will demand blood, sweat and toil with the same grit and perspective that inspired those who destroyed Hitlerism yesterday. That this is possible, here and now, has been amply demonstrated by those who in the last few weeks have thrown out American marauders from their last stronghold and re-named it as the City of Ho Chi Minh.

The refreshing river of History flows on—washing away the old and bringing in the new.

(Mainstream, May 10, 1975)

ISSN : 0542-1462 / RNI No. : 7064/62