On the Belarusian Crisis
Down with the capitalist counter-revolution and the imperialist regime change!
In August last year, Belarus was a hot topic for international news. As a result of disobedience of the presidential election, anti-government protests were held, and more than 200,000 people participated a day in August, when it reached its peak. Now, after about four months passed and the year changed, It seems that protests have become died down. However, the fire was not distinguished completely, only died down for a while.
Lukashenko, who was first elected in the 1994 presidential election with promise of opposing total privatization, has been in power for 26 years, winning consecutive presidential elections. There were opposition-led protests during the 2006 and 2010 elections, and each time the U.S. and European imperialism responded with sanctions on Belarus.
The popular view of Western media dealing with such conflicts is "democratic versus dictatorship." Opponents of Lukashenko have repeatedly raised suspicions of fraudulent elections, but no evidence has been revealed. Nevertheless, if the presidential election results were not conceded and allegations of election fraud were raised, the West immediately confirmed the allegations as a fait accompli. Without considering how itself looks, it imposed economic/diplomatic sanctions on Belarus, calling it “the last dictatorship in Europe.”
Belarus had not been much exposed to the media before. In particular, there were not many political and economic contacts with Korea in East Asia, and there were also language barriers. Since the Belarusian crisis took place in August, we have collected and researched related data, including Belarus’s history, protest character, and class characteristics of the state.
We want to share the results of the research and analysis so far.
Belarus is a country with a dominant state ownership and relatively high level of welfare
The economic collapse, the abolition of social security systems, and the collapse of the health and medical system, accompanied by a massive privatization frenzy after the collapse of the Soviet Union, were major disasters for the working people.(See Russia: A Capitalist Dystopia)
While the former Soviet states were suffering from unprecedented disasters, Belarus was able to avoid such disasters. Belarus was a fast-growing European economy with an annual GDP growth of 10 percent until 2015. Belarus was the fastest among the former Soviet states to achieve economic recovery at the level of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Russia, on the other hand, did not recover until 2006, and Ukraine is still at 65% of the end of the Soviet Union (Guaido, President of Belarus).
In terms of unemployment and real wages, Belarus is showing a wide gap with “post communist countries.”
The average wage increased by 4.9 times in 2010 from $503 in 1996, and per capita GDP by purchasing power(GDP(PPP)) reached $13,685 in 2010. There is clearly corruption in closed areas, but there is no street crime or disarray by mafia which is widespread in Ukraine or Russia. Streets of Minsk are clean and snow piled up in winter is cleaned immediately (see “History of Belarus” translated by Heo Seung-Cheol).
The decisive difference between other countries with disaster, such as the suicide rate soaring after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Belarus, lies in the ownership system.
“The three Baltic countries―Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania―returned to capitalism after belonging to the former communist bloc, producing 50 to 55 percent of their GNP in the private sector in 1994. In contrast, Belarus produced only 15% of its GNP in the private sector. During this period, the Baltic states exceeded the critical mass for the transition to a market economy, while Belarus reversed itself, reducing the private sector to 8% of GNP in 2005.”—History of Belarus
“From 2003 to 2014, Belarus had the largest reduction in poverty rates in the ECA region. Measured at the internationally comparable PPP US$5/day threshold,8 Belarus’s poverty headcount fell from 32 percent in 2003 to less than one percent in 2014, while in ECA it fell from 38 percent in 2003 to 13 percent in 2013. Measured at the threshold of PPP US$10/day, the poverty headcount in Belarus fell from 82 percent in 2003 to less than 10 percent in 2014 (Figure 1.1); while in ECA it fell from 73 percent to just below 47 percent (Figure 1.2).…Gender gaps in Belarus are much smaller than in other countries in ECA or the world. Belarus ranks 30th (between Spain and Portugal) among 144 countries covered by the 2016 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index. The high ranking is due to good education and labor market outcomes—Belarus ranks 1st on female enrollment in all levels of education, and on having female professionals and technical workers. Healthy life expectancy for women is also high.…Belarus has remained committed to the principle of universal access to health care, provided free at the point of use through predominantly state-owned facilities organized hierarchically on a territorial basis. Belarus has historically emphasized maintaining access to its health care system for all citizens in contrast to several other former Soviet Union countries. As a result, out-of-pocket payments as a share of total health expenditures in Belarus are one of the lowest in the region (20 percent). Since health services are free of charge at the point of delivery, most private spending (over 70 percent) relates to medicines.…Historically, a large share of the population (over 60 percent in 2003) benefited from an extensive system of privileges (for example, public transport, health care, and utilities, among others), and accounted for a third of the total social assistance budget at the beginning of the 2000s. Furthermore, important expenditure categories, including heating and utilities, were offered at tariffs considerably below costrecovery levels (58 percent in 2015) (IMF, 2016). These benefits, along with state-provision of education and healthcare, were important contributors to household welfare. However, neither the system of privileges, nor the subsidization of utilities, were fiscally sustainable. The reliance on privileges fell notably, beginning with reforms introduced in 2007, and by 2015 the share of population receiving privileges fell to 33 percent.”—World Bank
The Nature of Anti-government Protesters
The nature of the social movement is determined not by the subjective wishes of each individual participating in the movement, but by the direction of the leadership leading the movement. And its direction is expressed as a flag or slogan.
The flag is the most symbolic means of expressing the ideological orientation of the movement. The so-called “real socialism states” of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe have mostly returned to pre-revolution flags since their return to capitalism in 1989-1991. At the 2019 Hong Kong demonstration, which heated up international news in a similar fashion to Belarus, the leadership of the protest, which advocated independence from China, held the British colonial flag, the American flag, or the Union Jack. (See "Three axes of the Hong Kong situation: Imperialism, bureaucracy, and the working class's revolutionary vanguard.")
The fact that Hong Kong and Belarus demonstrators come out with flags of the previous regime proves that their protests are not just about seeking the right to vote or democracy. Ultimately, it symbolizes the pursuit of regime change.
The white-red-white flag brought out by the Belarusian protesters is not very auspicious for the working class. Historically, the white-red-white flag is a symbol of anti-labor, pro-capitalism, anti-communism, and pro-Nazi. In 1918, white-red-white flag was the flag of the People’s Republic of Belarus, which is controlled by Germany. It was a flag of counter-revolution against the Russian Revolution. After 1919 when the social revolution expanded to Belarus and Belarus became part of the Soviet Union, the white-red-white flag became the flag of the government-in-exile seeking a counter-revolution for capitalism. This white-red-white flag flew again in Belarus during 1943~1944 after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. It was the flag of pro-Nazi sympathizers for the Nazi occupation.
The nature of the anti-Lukashenko protest leadership can be summed up as “pro-capitalism.”
Svetlana Tikanovskaya, the opposition candidate for the 2020 presidential election, is the wife of anti-government YouTuber Sergei Tikanovsky. After Sergei Tikanovsky, who ran for president, was arrested on charges of leading the demonstration, she declared her candidacy. She ran as an independent candidate supported by several parties, including the Christian Democratic Party of Belarus, the Social Democratic Party and the United Civic Party of Belarus.
According to Wikipedia, the Christian Democratic Party is a pro-capitalist party and is encouraging homophobia. The United Civic Party also calls for “market reform” as its core platform. This is roughly the political belief of Valery Tsepkalo, one of the main leaders of the Belarusian opposition.
“Tsepkalo believes that private property is the basis not only for successful economic and social development, but also serves as a foundation for individuals' personal freedom, dignity and self-esteem. He states that real freedom depends upon individuals' economic sovereignty. To his mind, the aspiration of individuals towards economic freedom and individual independence is the main source of human civilization's evolution.
Tsepkalo thinks that property is the embodiment of personality and the main dimension of human existence. It is the condition for the realization of human essence. Therefore, governments should be assessed based on their actions to help their citizens achieve economic freedom as a condition for respect and individual dignity.”—Valery Tsepkalo, Wikipedia
As such, opposition leaders in Belarus are anti-communists who believe in private ownership. Their anger over Lukashenko’s dictatorship should be called anger at the suppression of freedom of capital, rather than anger at the infringement of people’s legitimate rights.
Report of RAND Corporation in the United States: “Extending Russia: Competing from Advantageous Ground”
This is a report from the RAND Corporation, which was discovered during a research study on the Belarusian crisis, dated April 24, 2019. The report, titled “Extending Russia: Competing from Advantageous Ground(April 24, 2019)” studies various means to target Russia, which is an obstacle for US imperialism to further expanding its influence in the Eurasian region. Furthermore, our subject of discussion, Belarus, is introduced in Chapter 4, which deals with ‘the geopolitical means’. The title is ‘Promoting the regime change of Belarus.’ In this regard, the report provides considerable insight into understanding the situation in Belarus.
The RAND Corporation which published the report, is an American research institute on diplomatic strategy. It is an institution that analyzes the world situation from the interests and perspectives of the U.S. imperialism and provides advice to the U.S. government. The Rand Corporation was established in 1945 under the leadership of the first Air Force Chief of Staff Henry Arnold and the military capital McDonnell Douglas Company. In particular, Curtis LeMei, the fifth Air Force Chief of Staff, who did indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Japan and the Korean Peninsula, proposed a full-scale invasion during the Cuban missile crisis, and verbally abused North Vietnam to “return it to the Stone Age”, was one of the founders. In 2019, RAND Corporation received a total of $357 million in donations, 82.7 percent of which were from the U.S. government.
The report has nine authors, including James Dobbins. James Dobbins, the first author, has the following history.
“Ambassador James Dobbins is a senior fellow and distinguished chair in Diplomacy and Security at the RAND Corporation. He has held State Department and White House posts including assistant secretary of State for Europe, special assistant to the president for the Western Hemisphere, special adviser to the president, secretary of State for the Balkans, and ambassador to the European Community. Dobbins has served on numerous crisis management and diplomatic troubleshooting assignments as special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti, and Somalia for the administrations of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.”
Based on his career, James Dobbins is an experienced diplomat with extensive working experience. Furthermore, the fact that his workplace was the sharp battlegrounds of the U.S. imperialism, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti and Somalia, suggests his ability as an imperialist adviser.
This is how the RAND Report describes the purpose of the research.
“This report examines a range of possible means to extend Russia.…We examine nonviolent measures that could stress Russia’s military, its economy, or the regime’s political standing at home and abroad.…Rather, these steps are conceived of as elements in a campaign designed to unbalance the adversary, leading Russia to compete in domains or regions where the United States has a competitive advantage, inspiring Russia to overextend itself militarily or economically or causing the regime to lose domestic and/or international prestige and influence.”
Next, let’s take a look at the table of contents of this report. It is interesting in itself as the outline of U.S. foreign strategy is revealed, and it helps to determine the position of the Belarusian issue in the U.S. strategy against Russia.
Introduction: Methodology/ Overview and the Central Argument of the Report
Russia’s Anxieties and Vulnerabilities: Russia Since 1991/ Contemporary Russian Military/ Contemporary Russian Economy/ Contemporary Russian Politics/ Contemporary Russian Foreign Policy/ Russian Anxieties
Economic Measures: Recent Russian Economic Performance/ Measure 1: Hinder Petroleum Exports/ Measure 2: Reduce Natural Gas Exports and Hinder
Pipeline Expansions/ Measure 3: Impose Sanctions/ Measure 4: Enhance Russian Brain Drain/ Recommendations
Geopolitical Measures: Measure 1: Provide Lethal Aid to Ukraine/ Measure 2: Increase Support to the Syrian Rebels/ Measure 3: Promote Regime Change in Belarus/ Measure 4: Exploit Tensions in the South Caucasus/ Measure 5: Reduce Russian Influence in Central Asia/ Measure 6: Challenge Russian Presence in Moldova/ Recommendations
Ideological and Informational Measures: Pathways for Influence Operations/ Current Status of Russian Regime Legitimacy/ Russian Domestic Environment/ Policy Measures to Diminish Domestic and Foreign Support for the
Russian Regime/ Recommendations
Air and Space Measures: Measure 1: Change Air and Space Force Posture and Operations/ Measure 2: Increase Aerospace Research and Development/ Measure 3: Increase Air and Missile Components of the Nuclear Triad/ Recommendations
Maritime Measures: Measure 1: Increase U.S. and Allied Naval Force Posture and Presence/ Measure 2: Increase Naval Research and Development Efforts/ Measure 3: Shift Nuclear Posture Toward SSBNs/ Measure 4: Check the Black Sea Buildup/ Recommendations
Land and Multidomain Measures: Measure 1: Increase U.S. and NATO Land Forces in Europe/ Measure 2: Increase NATO Exercises in Europe/ Measure 3: Withdraw from the INF Treaty/ Measure 4: Invest in New Capabilities to Manipulate Russian Risk Perceptions/ Recommendations
Conclusions: Implications and Recommendations for the Army/
Chapter 4 Geopolitical Measures…the promote of a regime change in Belarus
Let’s concretely examine Chapter 4, which is related to the Belarusian crisis.
“Belarus is Russia’s most important ally. It provides a buffer between Russia and major NATO countries and is the initial link in Russia’s ground lines of communication between the mainland and Kaliningrad.…For the past several decades, Lukashenko stayed in power by exploiting Belarus’ position as a key transit point for Russian oil and natural gas while centralizing his political power”
It analyzes geopolitical position of Belarus and explains how and why Belarus is important to Russia.
The following is an explanation of the causes of social unrest in Belarus.
“And yet, Lukashenko’s grip on Belarus might be loosening. Beginning in 2015, oil prices and foreign support dipped and Belarus faced a worsening recession.…Lukashenko responded by blaming the unemployed and the underemployed for not trying to find work.”
“He introduced a “law against social parasites,” targeting people who work fewer than 183 days a year with an annual tax of $250.…The tax affected some 470,000 people, according to the Belarusian Tax Ministry, and failing to pay it could be punished with up to 15 days in jail. The 2016 “social parasite” tax deadline came on February 20, 2017. Some 54,000 individuals paid the tax; many more did not. Beginning on February 17, thousands of Belarusians took to the streets to protest the tax.”
Causes of social unrest in Belarus should be studied more specifically. However, assuming that the public participating in this demonstration overlaps with the public participating in the demonstration in 2020, the nature of the anti-Lukashenko demonstration participants and leadership can be seen.
The following is a report on how the United States will take advantage of social unrest of Belarus to move toward an anti-Russian regime change.
“From a U.S. policy standpoint, Belarus’ unrest might present an opportunity to extend Russia by aiding the opposition, removing a long-standing Russian-allied dictator, and supporting liberalization. This aid to Lukashenko’s opposition could come in a variety of forms, ranging from public declarations of support by U.S. leaders to moredirect financial and organizational assistance helping the opposition parties reach the end state of being a free and democratic Belarus. Alternatively, the United States could adopt precisely the opposite approach and try to leverage the recent unrest to build a closer relationship with Lukashenko’s regime through the offers of economic aid.”
Interested readers may feel that there were similar scenes in Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Hong Kong.
The following is an explanation of the benefits of a regime change in Belarus. The plan is to hit Belarus and at the same time, aiming to weaken Russia.
“In a zero-sum world, denying Russia its one and only true ally would be a clear geopolitical and ideological gain for the West. It would bring an end to “Europe’s last dictatorship,” a long-standing U.S. policy goal. Moreover, it would undermine Russia’s attempt to create an EEEU in competition with the EU, complicate any Russian attempt to employ military force against the Baltic States, and further isolate Kaliningrad.”
It is interesting to call Belarus “the last dictatorship of Europe.” Macron of France, who has been suppressing brutally the “yellow vest movement” for more than two years, or the U.S. regime that casually shoots and kills nearly 1,000 people a year may be typical of “dictatorship.” But we know that the language of the imperialists, the chief of the capitalist class is very different from that of the oppressed people. Perhaps the expression “the last dictatorship of Europe.” contains hostility toward the Belarusian state ownership system.
The report then diagnoses the possibility of success of Belarusian regime change operations as follows.
“Starting revolutions is not easy, and the United States lending public support to opposition movements does not guarantee that they will be successful.…A 2013 poll similarly found that 55 percent of Belarusian respondents had a positive image of the EU, up 15 percent from five years earlier. That said, more-recent polling found that Belarusians were not clamoring for revolution.…As Belarusian expert Balazs Jarabik summed up, “People don’t want more freedom.”
Many Belarusians benefit from the state ownership system. They saw what disaster the dismantling of state ownership systems in the former Soviet states had caused. In addition, recently, they saw how Ukranian life became miserable by the establishment of a fascist regime in western Ukraine and division of the country. This may be the background for Belarusians to tolerate corruption, undemocracy and irrationalities of the Lukashenko regime, unless there is a better alternative.
In the conclusion of Chapter 4, the report explains Syria, where US has been undergoing a regime change operation since 2011 by using rebels and directly intervening with US military, with Belarus.
“Providing support for Syrian anti-regime rebels and trying to instigate a color revolution in Belarus would both be quite risky, albeit for different reasons. In the case of Syria, additional aid to the rebels might jeopardize other U.S. policy priorities, most notably combating radical Islamic terrorism. Such a move also risks further destabilizing the entire region. Moreover, this option might not even be feasible, given the fragmentation and decline of the Syrian opposition. Instigating a revolution in Belarus would pose several practical challenges but also threatens one of Moscow’s core security interests. Very likely, a revolution in Belarus would provoke a strong response from Russia and might even start another armed conflict if elements in Belarus were to resist, as occurred in Ukraine.”
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was a powerful checker, American imperialists have not hidden any of their robbery desires. These days, American imperialists are so brazen.
Modern History of Eastern Europe: The Counter-Revolution of Capitalism and the March to the East of NATO
In 1917 October Revolution abolished private ownership and established a workers’ state for the first time in Russia and its vicinity. As a result of World War II, imperialism, the core violence that supported capitalism, was overthrown in the Soviet victory zone and in some areas where the national liberation struggle won. The private ownership was abolished and the achievements of the October Revolution expanded. It had a weakness of low productivity and Stalinist bureaucracy, but workers’ state expanded to Eastern Europe, North Korea and China, and then Cuba and Vietnam.
However, as the left-wing opposition led by Trotsky analyzed and predicted, the contradictions, such as ‘the failure of spread of revolution to advanced capitalist countries, corruption and incompetence of Stalinist social parasite groups, and low productivity levels‛, did not eliminate capitalist regression factors in the region. Capitalist elements grew more and more, taking advantage of the weaknesses of a degenerated/deformed workers’ state. In 1989-1991, capitalist counter-revolutions broke out in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and one of the axes of the so-called “real socialism” fortress collapsed.
Power fell to capitalist regression, and the red flag was lowered. Private ownership and the flag of the bourgeois state were raised again. The capitalist ruling party, which took over the power of the state, soon proceeded to completely expand private ownership. The tank, which became a platform in August 1991 for Yeltsin, the leader of the capitalist counter-revolution, shelled the building of Supreme Soviet, who disagreed the disolution of state owenrship, in October 1993. The living standards of the people of Russia and Eastern Europe have fallen into abyss.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO, which is an imperialist axis supporting capitalism, such as the United States, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, expanded its influence eastward and eastward. The goal of the imperialist march to the east is “capitalization and pro-imperialist regime change.” The motive for the eastern marches is ‘maximizing profits.’ Lenin explains “The relationship between maximizing profits and regime change” like this.
“Of course, finance capital finds most “convenient”, and derives the greatest profit from, a form of subjection which involves the loss of the political independence of the subjected countries and peoples. In this respect, the semi-colonial countries provide a typical example of the “middle stage”. It is natural that the struggle for these semidependent countries should have become particularly bitter in the epoch of finance capital, when the rest of the world has already been divided up.”—VI. DIVISION OF THE WORLD AMONG THE GREAT POWERS of “Imperialism”
This is why the so-called “Color Revolution” has been frequent in Eastern Europe. The latest pro-U.S. regime change was a 2013–14 Euromaidan coup in Ukraine bordering Russia and Belarus. As a result, Ukraine was divided into east and west. Now it’s Belarus’s turn.
History of how Belarus deflected capitalism
Belarus was out of the capitalism return stream that swept the region. Russia to the east, Baltic to the north, Poland to the west, Ukraine to the south, all neighboring countries surrounding Belarus were all swept away by the capitalist counter-revolution at the same time. The class nature of power changed, and the state ownership system collapsed and private ownership was restored. Belarus, however, survived alone as an island of state ownership island.
Before analyzing the causes, let’s summarize political history of Belarus in the 1990s by seeing “History of Belarus.”
“There was a return to capitalism in Belarus, but it was different from neighboring countries. In 1988, he organized a civil front modeled on a civil front established in the Baltic States, but did not gain widespread support. The civil front had a weak connection with the public, and no one from Belarus' political leadership was allowed to join it. Belarus's "Democracy and Independence," put forward by the civic front, did not arouse much enthusiasm not only for the general public but also for college students who should be key supporters. He won only 27 of the 345 seats in the 1990 Supreme Council election. Most of the seats were occupied by Communist Party officials, local administrative officials, state-run industrial and agricultural companies. Belarusian counter-revolutionaries could not use their power even when the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union hit Belarus and temporarily dissolved Communist power. Lukashenko won 80.1 percent of the 1994 presidential election, the first since independence from the Soviet Union. Lukashenko led a political faction called "Communists for Democracy" and was famous for his controversial vulgar speech. Lukashenko served as a KGB border guard officer and was elected to the Supreme Council in 1990 during the period of Perestroika confusion after serving as a manager of a collective farm and building material factory. Upon taking office as president, Lukashenko took a reconciliation policy with Russia and opposed nationalist tendencies. It has clashed with the Belarussian Popular Front, which strongly advocates nationalism. Lukashenko's victory in the 1994 presidential election followed by the 1996 referendum, which meant maintaining Stalinist bureaucratic control, an indefinite suspension and reversal of the process of capitalist return/ privatization.”
How did Belarus survive from the “capitalization and pro-imperialist regime change?”
The first reason why “capitalization and pro-imperialist regime change” did not happen in Belarus is that Belarus is the farthest from the West except Russia. Poland, the Czech Republic, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Romania, the Baltic States and Ukraine, which were former communist states that were more west or closer to the West than Belarus, have been pro-imperialist regimes one after another since their return to capitalism. They were soon incorporated into NATO, and missile bases were built to target Russia.
Secondly, Belarus is not very much economically attractive to imperialism. Although it is on the border with Russia, there are not many natural resources. In addition, much of the territory was seriously polluted by the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident.
“Belarus suffered more serious damage from artificial rainfall in Moscow and other central Russian cities during the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident. Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians on artificially induced rain paths have been exposed to radiation, and 22 percent of the land has been contaminated by radioactivity. According to the March 2019 radiation test results of the Belarusian GoMel Regional Centre for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health, 241 food samples were examined and 23(9.5%) were found to contain radioactive substances exceeding RDU-99(radioactive standards for food and drinking water).”―Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Accident, Tragedy of Belarus
Thirdly, Belarus is a strategic point for Russia. Belarus is the land where Russian pipelines to Europe pass, and it is on the way to Kaliningrad, an ice-free port in the Baltic Sea. If a pro-Western regime is established in the region, Russia will be strangled. Russia never wants Belarus to be like western Ukraine.
Russia: ‘Capitalist Power, But Not Imperialism’
Along with the United States, Russia is one of the decisive factors in the situation in Eastern Europe and Belarus. Therefore, the analysis of Russian social characteristics is significant.
Russia has returned to capitalist state since 1991. Capitalist Russia features ‘a vast territory, enormous natural resources, great military power and backward productivity.’ The first three features follow the Soviet Union’s halo and allow it to act as a powerful nation, one of the world’s “great powers.” However, productivity, which shows a wide gap over advanced imperialism, makes Russia not to rank among imperialism, namely the ‘colonialism of finance capital motivated by pursuit of super-profit.’
The policy of colonial expansion of imperialism is not due to the subjective wishes of the country’s capitalists. It is the result of being attracted to the nature of capital towards maximizing profits. The imperialist expansion policy is the realization of the instinct of imperialist finance capital: the pursuit of super-profit (the over and above profits which capitalists squeeze out of the workers of their “own” country/Lenin).
However Russia’s monthly minimum wage as of 2020 is only 12,130 rubles (about $ 210). In this situation, it is extremely limited for capital to go abroad to get “the over and above profits which capitalists squeeze out of the workers of their “own” country”. Furthermore, considering the military costs of defending the exploitation structure overseas from the local people and imperialist rivals and bringing safely the exploited goods and profits to their home countries, the calculation is completely out of place. In this regard, Russia cannot be an imperialist state, regardless of the subjective self-identity of the Russian capitalist class. It can’t be a predator because it can’t digest meat.
Economically, Russia is a country, where some of the value produced by its labor is leaked to imperialist countries through commodity exchanges, foreign capital loans, and direct investment. Thus it is a colony. Meanwhile, politically, Russia maintains some of its sovereignty. In this regard, Russia is an semi-colonial state.
Meanwhile, Russia is a resource-rich country. Russian capitalists never want to lose their political power and be reduced to the subordinate of Western imperialism. Then, as the example of Saudi Arabia shows, the imperialist Army will march in, and local capitalists will have to stand in the background and watch as it waste resources like they are its own yard’s resources. Social status will be reduced to a poor, and they should earn only crumbly profits in a servile manner.
This is why since Yeltsin, from 2000 until now, the Russian capitalists have maintained a strong bonapartist nationalist regime led by Putin. (Such situations include Venezuela, Iran, and Libya during Gaddafi’s era, where Bonapartist nationalist regime was located in resource-rich countries.) Yeltsin was just born as a capitalist regime and had to face opposition to the dissolution of state ownership within Russia. Internal support was weak and survival was possible only when leaning to the West. However, in those 10 years, capitalist power has grown, and it has begun to speak in a rather thick voice. Precious natural resources on their land gave them a strong incentive not to succumb to Western imperialism. The powerful military power inherited from the Soviet Union gave them the guts to protect their voice.
Russia has been passive and defensive in the U.S. race. On the world stage, where the strong competitor disappeared after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, American imperialism had no obstacle. It used economic, military and political methods to subjugate countries that were formerly under Soviet influence. It either invaded Somalia in 1992, Serbia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003, Libya and Syria in 2011, or supported pro-U.S. forces in the region to create a civil war or coup. Then it came to Russia, the most coveted prey.
Russian capitalists, including Putin, were pro-Western and even had a naive fantasy of becoming partners with the U.S. in global operations. The decisive awakening of Russia was the 2013–14 Ukraine crisis. After the former Soviet-influenced countries fell into the hands of the United States one after another, they could no longer sit by and watch as countries become Russia’s enemies. The teeth became very cold when the lips were damaged, just like the old saying.
Russia finally moved in 2015 at the request of Syria’s Assad regime, which has been suffering from a U.S.-led regime change since 2011. Along with Iran, which was suffering from the same situation, Russia sent troops to Syria to defend the Assad regime. It realized that if it want to protect its teeth, it have to protect its lips first.
In this regard, Russia is opposed to a pro-Western regime change in Belarus in “political and militarial” manner. However, the ‘property system’ is a completely different matter. Capitalist Russia has no reason to maintain a Belarusian state ownership system. Although not in the short term, but in the long term, the Russian capitalists share the same interest of the state-owned system as the imperialists. In this regard, Belarus, Europe’s last “degenerated workers’ state,” is a country like Mogley, protected by wolves to escape the tyrant tiger Shere Khan.
Summary and Conclusion
Belarus became part of the Russian Revolution in October 1917, when Minsk soviet of workers and soldiers issued a decree declaring, "All power to Soviet." During the Soviet Union's existence, Belarus was part of the Soviet Union, a degenerated workers state. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 created a temporary disturbance in Belarus, but capitalism was not restored in Belarus. Belarus has become the only country to survive in the crumbling citadel of a “degenerated worker state.”
From the standpoint of global imperialism, Belarus is a land that has yet to be returned to capitalism, and at the same time must be conquered to hurt its ultimate prey, Russia. For the world’s working class, without any illusions to Lukashenko, we must prevent Belarus from overthrowing its ownership and attempting to pro-imperialist regime change. In that sense, we defend Lukashenko militarily.
Lukashenko is an obstacle on the way back to capitalism, but at the same time an obstacle to construct socialism. As with the Stalinist bureaucracy of the past and present, the Lukashenko bureaucracy, on the one hand, has an incentive to defend the working-class’ ownership system, while at the same time showing pro-capitalist and anti-labor behavior to defend bureaucratic privileges from the working people. In Belarus, such a move is expressed as an alternative to individual contracts in collective bargaining, pension corruption, and the introduction of ‘unemployment tax’ (see In Belarus, the Left Is Fighting to Put Social Demands at the Heart of the Protests). Therefore, maintaining the status quo is not the best way to preserve state ownership, a source of relatively descent life. The Belarusian regime must be replaced by the revolutionary regime of the working class based on the internationalist revolutionary program of Lenin and Trotsky.
In the long run, however, Belarus’ fate depends on the prospects of the global revolution. Imperialist forces, led by the U.S., are fighting all over the world. In East Asia, there has been constant tension against North Korea and China, and regime change operations are active in Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Hong Kong and Bolivia, and in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have been floundering for nearly 20 years, not ending agresssion war.
The world’s working class must fight on the side of anti-imperialism in those battles. When the battles that are still struggling come down to the defeat of imperialism, and when those defeats build up, the world capitalist citadel that imperialism supports will eventually collapse. Workers of all world, unite! Be at the spearhead of the struggle for defeat of imperialism!
January 15, 2020