Liberation, Freedom And Democracy

By Vic Ratsma, editorial, NorthStar Compass, November 2003

EIGHTY-SIX YEARS AGO, on November 7, 1917, the working class of Russia started on the road to free itself from the capitalist system and began a new and challenging chapter in the development of mankind. After generations of oppression and poverty, the working classes of Russia liberated themselves from the past and began the construction of an entirely new society, where freedom from want and democratic decision-making by the people were to be the hallmark of the new state.

Today, in November of 2003 we also hear the words “liberation, freedom and democracy”, but this time these words are not coming from the working class but from a quite different sources, namely from the President of the United States, George W. Bush and from members of his administration. Liberation, freedom and democracy is what they promised to bring to the people of Iraq.

Some people will say that both efforts were unsuccessful. The October Revolution of 1917 because it failed to deliver a workers' paradise and the Soviet Union ultimately ceased to exist in 1991. And in Iraq and elsewhere, the USA failed miserably because you cannot impose your will on another nation by the use of force and implant a foreign ideology on an unwilling population.

Whatever your point of view, and while the words might be the same, the meaning of “liberation, freedom and democracy” in the two cases and the intended results couldn't be more different. The October Socialist Revolution in Russia came about as the result of hard fought struggles, not only against their own bourgeoisie and property owners, but also against all foreign invaders, amongst whom the selfsame United States of America. The freedom they fought for was a freedom no nation had yet achieved: free education for all to the highest level of one's ability, free medical care, the lowest possible prices for all the basic needs, like food, clothing and shelter, freedom from unemployment and poverty, freedom from fear of crime, security in ones old age. All this and much more was the goal of the peoples' freedom, and it was achieved!

Democratic participation in the making of decisions at national, regional, local and shop level, both directly and through elected representatives formed the basis of a new socialist democracy. And even though we know that the system was anything but perfect as it was continuously undermined from inside as well as outside by the covert and overt enemies, it nevertheless succeeded in building a powerful nation in fewer years than anyone had ever dreamed possible.

The liberation, freedom and democracy the United States is talking about, not only for the people of the USA or Iraq, but for any nation on earth is almost the complete opposite of what was described above. The number of wars of liberation initiated by the USA include Korea, Vietnam, Chile, Nicaragua, Grenada, Philippines, Afghanistan, to mention just a few. In all cases the objective was to foil the liberation struggles of the people and to subject them to the rule of the capitalist upper classes. Thus, American liberation is liberty of the bourgeoisie, their freedom is the freedom to exploit the working people of any nation for the private gain of their multinational corporate friends and their democracy is limited to establish strategic hegemony over the entire globe, their wars of “liberation” are nothing more than a modern approach to the re-colonization of nations for access to their natural resources and cheap labour.

As in early times, this piracy will prevent the raising of the living standards of the home population and condemn them to continued poverty and struggle for even a meager living standard.

Socialist liberation, freedom and democracy on the other hand means power in the hands of the people, democratic control by the working class, the production of all wealth, and self determination with regard to the future development of ones own country. The few examples of the achievements of the Soviet Union cited above serve as an example of what can be accomplished.

No, the USSR was not yet a utopia and over the years of its existence undoubtedly made its share of mistakes and had its shortcomings. But the October Revolution of 1917 proved this very clearly: That it is possible for the common people to put an end to the exploitation of man by man, to end the dictatorship of the rich and powerful over the masses and to distribute the fruits of their collective labour equitably among all.

And that kind of liberation, freedom and democracy is worth fighting for!