An assessment of 100 Years of the USSR

An assessment of 100 Years of the USSR

The USSR’s most important contribution to humanity

The most important contribution of the Soviet Union to humanity is that for the first time the Scientific Socialist theory was put into practice in a country, proving in practice that socialism can be constructed. The USSR became the most important model of the ideal of an equal, just and non-exploitative world.

Also, the USSR was the first step in the universalization of Marxism in the age of imperialism, overflowing the borders of Europe.

The Soviet Union was the first to ensure that all people received equal and free education, access to health services, and that culture, art and literature ceased to be the privilege of a narrow segment of the population and reached the remotest corners across a vast geography. The Soviet Union made it possible for an ordinary shepherd to become a musician, a ballet dancer and a painter, and proved this to the entire world. The USSR also made a significant contribution to bringing science to the service of all humanity.

The USSR living within Russia

The legacy of these mentioned above played, and still playing, a crucial role in the reconstruction of the Russian Federation from the situation in which it found itself -devastation and depression- after the collapse of the USSR. After the Yeltsin era, the period of destruction in the 1990s, Putin’s Russia is following a line embracing the legacy of the Soviet Union. Today, Russia draws strength from the legacy of the USSR in its struggle against the West and in tackling some of its internal problems.

Especially in the recent period, we see that the achievements of the Soviet era have been brought to the forefront, and the public has been reminded of the successes of the USSR in the fields of sports, arts, military, industry and technology by making many films and organizing exhibitions in this regard with state incentives. We can state that since Putin came to power, the honor of the Soviet era has begun to be restored.

The return of Stalin

In the 1990s, whereas 9 out of 10 books about Stalin in a bookstore were propaganda against him and only one objective and scientific, the opposite is the case today: 8-9 out of 10 books have a positive approach to the Stalin era and the Soviet era in general. We see the Soviets rising again in Russia’s struggle against the West. In this respect, we can say that the Soviets are still alive and holding an influential position in today’s Russia.

The USSR, national liberation wars and national democratic revolutions

Undoubtedly, the Soviet Union’s contribution to humanity was not limited to opening up the era of socialist revolutions. The USSR was also a great factor in opening up the era of national liberation wars and national democratic revolutions. Türkiye is the most striking example in this respect. Türkiye’s resistance at Gallipoli prevented the armies of the Entente from delivering aid to Tsardom Russia and thus created the conditions for the October Revolution. In reverse, the October Revolution played a major role in creating the conditions for the Turkish War of Independence. Of course the Turkish revolution and the Turkish War of Independence were mainly shaped by its own dynamics, but the October Revolution had a huge impact on Türkiye’s victory on August 30th on the international scale. The USSR’s economic and military aid to the Turkish government and the destruction of the Caucasian barrier formed by British imperialism on Türkiye’s eastern front were major contributions to the victory of the Turkish War of Independence. As seen in the case of Türkiye, the USSR was crucial in the creation of the international conditions for the success of the liberation wars around the world with its stance against imperialism. Falih Rıfkı Atay, one of the most important thinkers of the Kemalist Revolution, said, “It would be accurate to erect a statue of Lenin in some place in Istanbul”, which is actually a good indication of the situation.

In the later period, the USSR provided support for the establishment of Turkish industry, such as textile factories, important enterprises such as Sümerbank, and 5-year development plans in Türkiye. These facts are examples of the Soviet influence for the victory of national liberation wars, countries seeking independence, and the establishment of an independent economy after the victories. Türkiye is only one of these examples; many others exist.

Liberation of the world from German fascism

Another point that needs to be emphasized when we talk about the Soviet Union is its struggle against German fascism in the World War II. The Soviets waged this fight at the expense of the lives of 21 million people according to some studies, 27 million according to others and made the greatest contribution to the liberation of the whole world from fascism.

Two USSR: The retreat from socialism and collapse

Besides all this, it should be noted that there were two USSRs. One USSR is the USSR that opened up the era of socialist revolutions, played an important role in creating the conditions for national liberation wars, proved that the working class could come to power, and set an exemplary course for the ideal of an equal and classless society. The second USSR is the one that decayed and decided to take the capitalist path.

Especially from the second half of the 1950s, with the Khrushchev government, particularly with the 21st and 22nd congresses, the Soviet Union began to be ruled by a party that chose the capitalist path. In this respect, it was not only the Yeltsin and Gorbachev, but the process that started in the second half of the 1950s, which paved the way for the Yeltsin and Gorbachev governments, that led the USSR to its collapse. The line of Khrushchev and Brezhnev was the line of the capitalist roaders, a line that lasted 35-40 years, and Yeltsin and Gorbachev gave the final blow in the collapse of the USSR. This second USSR is also the USSR that has become social imperialist.

It is worth noting the value of Mao’s contribution to the theorization of both the positively positive legacy of the USSR and the revisionist and social imperialist period.

Russia switching camp after the collapse of the USSR

Until the collapse of the USSR, there were two superpowers in the world: The US and the USSR, which had acquired a social imperialist character. These two powers were in competition for the sharing of the world. The USSR was undoubtedly providing a counter-balance to the US, thereby opening space and maneuvering opportunities for the countries struggling against imperialism. The collapse of the USSR tipped the balance completely in favor of American imperialism.

As a result, Russia, the heir of the USSR, shifted from the camp of the sharers to the camp of the shared. After the collapse of the USSR, plans were put in place to dissolve Russia, ethnic provocations within the country were launched and the project of encircling Russia by the Atlantic camp began to be implemented. Thus, Russia’s fate became united with the fate of the shared ones.

What the unipolar world has brought

The unipolar world, globalization, national states becoming targets and attempts to Balcanize them; these were the main consequences of the collapse of the USSR. Türkiye was among those targeted within the framework of the Greater Middle East Project.

A brief look at the program led by the US reveals the followings:

On the political sphere; the destruction of national states under the name of the removal of borders, in other words statelessness, the triggering of separations by provocations on religious, sectarian and ethnic grounds, the organization of coups, encouraging decentralization under the name of “localization” and strengthening the reactionary and separatist forces by weakening the center, in short, the consolidation of imperialist hegemony and feudal darkness by dismantling the gains of national democratic and socialist revolutions.

On the economic sphere: the liberalization of the market and the domination of world monopolies in it, the removal of customs walls, the strengthening of the dollar hegemony, the narrowing of the state’s ability to intervene in the economy, the dispossession of national classes all over the world and the shift of the weight of the world economy from production to inhuman “sectors” such as drug and arms trade.

On the ideological-cultural level: Accompanied by neoliberalism, Soros’ ‘Open Society’ takes the lead emphasizing individual interest and identity (as seen in the example of sexual identity in case of LGBT), joined by a cosmopolitism in the metropoles that loses that fatherland, the devaluing of national culture, while sects and reactionary organizations strengthen in the countryside.  

As for the military sphere; the liquidation of the national armies – not surprising since they are the most important pillars of the national states -, the control of the US underground organization Gladio within state mechanisms (FETÖ in Türkiye is the most prominent instance of this), and the downgrading of the national armies to the level of an intervention forces in crisis zones.

In sum, the programs and gains of the socialist and national democratic revolutions were opposed by the Mafia-Gladyo-Cults regime. And I should point out that after the collapse of the USSR, this was true not only on the territory of the USSR but all over the world.

The end of the unipolar world and the Eurasian Century

Of course, today it is no longer possible to reestablish the USSR, however it is possible for the countries that have suffered and been damaged by Atlantic’s hegemonic program to come together on the basis of equality, just like in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Organization of Turkic States, the BRICS. We see that the power created by these organizations has played and will play an important role in confronting the threat from the West.

We are now at the end of the unipolar world that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union and multipolarity is being reestablished. We can state that the global economy is shifting center of gravity from the Atlantic to the Asia-Pacific, and in political and military terms the Eurasian geography has risen up marking the beginning of the Eurasian Century.

Mehmet Perinçek

Historian and political scientist (Türkiye)

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June 2024