From Wed Jun 11 08:00:06 2003
From: “WW News Service” <>
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To: “WW News Service” <>
Subject: wwnews Digest #646
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 2003 06:30:42 -0400

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Date: Wed, 11 Jun 2003 05:59:48 -0400
Subject: [WW] Why Bush didn’t visit the battleship Aurora

Why Bush didn't visit the Battleship Aurora

By Stephen Millies, Workers World, 23 June 2003

During the Iraq War, President George W. Bush made a photo op of landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln. Yet this war criminal didn't dare visit the battleship Aurora when he recently traveled to St. Petersburg in Russia.

Unlike the planes that took off from that U.S. ship and dropped thousands of bombs on Iraqi children, the Aurora delivered a mighty blow for human freedom. The shots fired from this Russian vessel by sailors on Nov. 7, 1917, guaranteed the victory of the workers' insurrection that was taking over St. Petersburg, then known as Petrograd. The Russian Revolution eventually ended World War I.

The world's first socialist revolution was born.

Russia's revolution inspired oppressed people all over the world to break their chains. China's landless millions knew that Russia's peasants had taken over the land. Decades of struggle there led to the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

The USSR aided Cuba, Korea, Vietnam and Africa—not just with surplus food but with the technology and skills to develop their economies.

Thirty thousand members of the South African Communist Party proudly display the “hammer and sickle” on their banners. This symbol—showing the unity of workers and peasants—was the Soviet emblem.


Hitler hated the birthplace of the Russian Revolution so much that, during World War II, he wanted to raze it to the ground. By that time its name had been changed from Petrograd to Leningrad, after the revolution's leader, V.I. Lenin.

Nazi armies blockaded Leningrad for 900 days. Over a million people perished in history's greatest siege. But the city's workers and soldiers held out and helped defeat Hitler.

In Piskariovskoye Cemetery alone, 500,000 of these heroes are buried. More people were interred in the 186 mass graves there then the number of U.S. dead in World War II.

Even presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton paid homage at Piskariovskoye. But George W. Bush ignored this sacred ground.


Bush went to St. Petersburg as it was celebrating its 300th anniversary. It was named for the patron saint of its founder, Peter the Great. This tyrant had his own son, Alexis, beaten to death.

Thirty thousand serfs died during the building of St. Petersburg. Serfdom was a form of land slavery. Serfs could be sold with the land they were forced to work on. They were beaten with a whip known as a “knout.”

As terrible as these conditions were, African Americans were treated worse on plantations. Tens of millions died in the African Holocaust.

Just as serf labor built St. Petersburg, slave labor built Washington, D.C. The U.S. Capitol was constructed by Black people in chains. Bush must have felt at home.

It wasn’t accidental that Russian serfdom was abolished in 1861 at the beginning of the U.S. Civil War. Czar Alexander II was forced to get rid of this feudal form of exploitation in order to keep up with his more advanced European rivals. But shock waves from John Brown's raid at Harper's Ferry were also persuasive.

St. Petersburg was already the political and cultural capital of the Russian Empire. Alexander Pushkin, the most beloved of Russian writers and poets, was a resident. Like the elder Alexandre Dumas, who wrote “The Three Muske teers,” Pushkin was a Black man with African ancestry.

Abolishing serfdom led to the growth of a working class that was forced to sell its labor power to wealthy capitalists. Because industrialization started later in Russia than in Western Europe, St. Petersburg skipped over the stage of smaller workshops and became home to the largest factories in Europe. The Putilov works alone employed 30,000 workers in the manufacture of engines and cars.

These workers, brought together under one roof in large numbers, could feel their own strength. But they also needed a revolutionary theory to get rid of the czar and the capitalists who were making them work 11 hours a day.

The teachings of Karl Marx showed them how capitalism developed and why it would be overthrown. The greatest Russian Marxist was Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik Party. When Lenin was 17 years old, his brother was hanged in St. Petersburg for trying to overthrow the czar.

Lenin waged a merciless struggle against racism. He taught Russians that they couldn’t free themselves while other peoples in the czarist empire— like Kazakhs, Georgians, Ukrainians and Jews—were treated like animals. The Soviet Union pioneered affirmative action.

In 1905 workers in St. Petersburg formed their own councils, called “soviets.” That was during the first of Russia's three revolutions. Although defeated in 1905, they were victorious in 1917 when peasants and soldiers joined them.

The U.S. government dominated by Wall Street spent trillions of dollars and threatened nuclear annihilation in order to overthrow the Soviet Union and its socialist achievements. They finally succeeded in 1991 and changed the city's name. But the memory of what workers did in St. Petersburg 86 years ago will never be erased.