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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

"No One Could Have Imagined"

Here's what I wrote Speaking of Faith after yet again hearing that ill-informed statement, this time on their episode titled "Remembering Forward":

I regret that because I wasn't fully awake, I didn't catch the context in which it was said that in the 1980s, "No one could have imagined that in a few years' time the Soviet Union would break up with a whimper." But it grates me whenever I hear statements like this. Actually, people with some imagination had been imagining such things for a long time. For instance, in 1938 Trotsky wrote in The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International, "The USSR thus embodies terrific contradictions. But it still remains a degenerated workers’ state. Such is the social diagnosis. The political prognosis has an alternative character: either the bureaucracy, becoming ever more the organ of the world bourgeoisie in the workers’ state, will overthrow the new forms of property and plunge the country back to capitalism; or the working class will crush the bureaucracy and open the way to socialism." Unfortunately the first prong of that alternative is pretty precisely what did happen. And, if anything, it took longer to happen than I would have predicted when I first became politically active as a teenager.

Eric Hamell

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