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Chechnya and oil—a Communist view

By Gus Hall, People's Weekly World, 14 January 1995

This is not a new question for us. We confronted it when the Soviet Union had to deal with secession in the republics, which eventually led to the dismemberment and disintegration of the socialist Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

We said then that the disintegration of the Soviet Union was a step in the destruction of socialism in the Republics. It was a step in the process of privatization and ultimately to a return to capitalism in the whole country.

First, the terrible conflict in Chechnya is not a simple one. It is a tragic one for the innocent people who are caught up in it. Besides the death and destruction, there are many other factors to consider in understanding what ishappening and what is at stake.

We must try to deal with it in its entirety. We do not yet have a full picture. But we do have enough information to draw some rather basic conclusions.

Here are some of the Marxist-Leninist premises that might help to see through the media fog. They are based on historical materialism and the laws and science of society.

First, Chechnya is not a republic. It never was. And it is not now. It has none of the features that would define it as a republic. Further, no one called it a republic until the Chechens announced they were seceding from Russia and accelerated their guerrilla war with an army of Chechen mercenariesand Muslim extremists.

When this conflict broke into the news here, all of a sudden Chechnya became a "rebel republic," fighting for its sovereignty and independence from the Russian Federation. Now the New York Times calls it "the breakaway republic." Chechnya is somewhat different from the surrounding regions because the majority of the people are Sunni Muslims. This, however, does not define it as a separate country.

Thus, Chechnya is not a republic, a separate country or a nation. It is also not one single, united nationality. The armed struggle is being waged on the basis that it is a Jihad, a holy war, that calls for all Muslims to come to the aid of their "Chechen brethren."

However, calling it a Muslim holy war is a smokescreen to cover up the real cause of the struggle. The bottom line in Chechnya is oil. It is one of the richest oil producing regions in the former USSR. It has vast natural gas deposits. It is a major chemical processing center. It has a vital pipeline running through its territory to the Caspian Sea port.

Even William Safire, is now calling Chechnya "the Connecticut-sized breakaway republic, fighting for their homeland" and admits that "if Russia lets Chechnya go, other Caucasian dominoes will fall and Moscow will be denied the Caspian oil ..."

Back to the bottom line. So it is not only the oil reserves but control of the pipelines that is at stake.

This region was one of the earliest supporters of Yeltsin. Its leaders are corrupt opportunists who are interested only in enriching themselves by selling out socialism to Yeltsin's privatization plan on the road to capitalism.

One of the main Chechen misleaders is Dudayev, the self-proclaimed president, a gangster created by Yeltsin. He declared the region independent and recruited former mercenaries from Afghanistan and other areas to serve in his secessionist army, to fight a holy war against Russian oppression.

One of the most serious factors in destroying socialism was, and is, political corruption. And because of the oil, corruption has become an even bigger factor in this region. In fact,the promise of huge profits from selling oil to U.S. and world imperialism corrupted the very top Communist leaders.

This corruption is related to Yeltsin's privatization plans. Privatization andcorruption go hand-in-hand. Privatizing socialist, public property opens wide the doors of corruption.

When we say oil, we have to ask what role Exxon, Standard Oil and Shell are playing in this situation. Wherever there is the combination of oil, privatization and corruption the oil cartels are deeply involved.

The future of the Russian Federation is directly involved in the outcome of this conflict. If Chechnya is allowed to secede there are hundreds of other such areas that would move in the same direction.

Let me ask, how would we react if confronted with the prospect of, say, oil-rich Oklahoma, seceding from the United States and becoming a separate state or country? The cohesion and unity of the Russian Federation is at stake. But also all the socialist structure remaining in the republics.

Thus, the secession of Chechnya has to be seen as a step in the process of the disintegration of the Russian Federation and in turning the clock back to the ugly past of privatization and capitalism

These developments are an outgrowth of Yeltsin's policies. It was Gorbachev and, later, Yeltsin's policies that led to the corruption that made the people vulnerable to nationalism and secession. Centuries-old backwardness, nationalism, extremist religions were rekindled. This cannot be combated without a socialist ideology to take its place. We know only too well how the lack of socialist ideology led to the crisis in socialism and especially the destruction of the Soviet Union.

How the war is being conducted is also a reflection of Yeltsin's failed policy. It is a poorly planned policy of hesitation, confusion and indecision which is resulting in much more bloodshed and devastation than is necessary to end the secession of Chechnya There has yet to be an explanation of this situation from a Communist party. To my knowledge none of the Communist parties have done so. No one has explained anything in terms of the oil, the pipelines, the corruption and privatization.

At this moment, our position must be that just as Gorbachev's capitulation to Estonian secession started the dismemberment of the USSR, so would capitulation to Chechen secessionists signal a dismemberment of Russia. The unraveling of the Russian Federation would be a major victory for U.S. imperialism.

World imperialism, especially U.S. imperialism, has momentarily won a major victory by supporting and encouraging all the "free market" capitalist entrepreneurs and criminal elements that have fully emerged in Russia. It is a temporary victory of imperialism in dismembering the USSR structure, in devastating its economy, in partially accomplishing privatization and capitalist economic penetration, in severely weakening the state and socialist enterprises, in weakening, outlawing and persecuting the Communist Party.

We hope that the the new parties in Russia will eventually lead to the establishment of one, united, Marxist-Leninist workingclass party of socialism. However, to advance its drive for world domination and the New World Order, U.S. imperialism must eliminate Russia's defense capability. Russia still remains the only power with sufficient nuclear capability to put a brake on U.S. military expansion.

Also, U.S. imperialism's main aim is to direct and oversee the transition to capitalism in Russia with a massive penetration of U.S. transnational capital, while further reducing wages and living standards, with the aim of making Russia into a semi-colony of the United States.

We should also not forget that U.S. imperialism relentlessly pursues its drive against Cuba, the remaining socialist countries and the world national liberation movements. However, at this moment the main target is Russia.

We must take a clear, principled position, as we did in the events that led to the disintegration of the socialist Soviet Union. We must state that we are resolutely for the preservation and defense of the integrity of the Russian Federation. And we are for the defense and restoration of socialism.

With every fiber of our Marxist-Leninist being we U.S. Communists have and will continue to take a partisan position in defense of the working class and people of all the ex-socialist countries in the revival of socialism and all the benefits and privileges of workingclass power. Such a resurgence will also play a significant role in the class struggle in our own country. It will be ablow to U.S. imperialism. And it will make our advocacy of socialism USA more attractive and more credible.

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