Human history is replete with different social, economic and political systems which have been shaped on the basis of apocalyptic circumstances that have transpired from time to time. Such historic events have been witnessed either in form of wars, revolutions or other incidents which would subsequently result in apolitical or economic transformation of the region concerned. The Bolshevik revolution of Russia in 1917 was a similar event which resulted in transforming geo-politics the world over through its spill over effects. After the end of World War II, native peoples rose against the colonial powers which eventually led to the attainment of freedom and self-rule. In February 1989, Soviet troops were returning from Afghanistan after a disastrous war and catastrophic losses incurred in the past ten years. Thereafter in 1989, the famous philosopher and historian Francis Fukuyama predicted not only the rise of the US as the only superpower but also the demise and downfall of crumbling Soviet Union.
Nevertheless it was Lenin and Leon Trotsky, the leaders who played a pivotal role in the Bolshevik revolution had also expressed their views in 1917 regarding the causes of the demise of socialist revolution. Both the leaders had stated that in case the Soviet Union would disintegrate, it would only be due to the result of the fact that socialism was confined or constrained to one country instead of heralding spill over effects to other countries. Lenin had predicted that if the socialist revolution does not spread to other European countries, then ultimately the socialist revolution and the political or economic system it supports would die and crumble.
Similarly Trotsky in his book, ‘The revolution betrayed’ shared similar views on the scientific basis elaborated on the causes of the downfall of the socialist revolution. On the other hand, after the end of World War II, the planned economic system of the Soviet Union was gaining such prominence in other countries that the policy makers who vociferously advocated the American capitalistic system, were also of the view that someday the Soviet Union would overtake the US economy and would rise to become the largest economy in the world. However the Soviet planned economic system lost its efficaciousness as it stagnated due to inefficiency and mal-administration in the 1970s.
In 1989, Fukuyama wrote a thesis by the name of “The end of History” keeping in consideration the political and historical context as the Soviet Union had started disintegrating in 1991.In China as well the rule of Deng Xiaoping had also led to an increase in foreign investment as the Chinese premier adopted open economic policies to tread towards the path of economic progress and prosperity. In the 1980s Reagan in the US and Margaret Thatcher in the UK endorsed for neo-liberalism and strong support for privatisation policies and the successful crackdown on labour unions (for example in US against airtraffic controllers and in UK against the coal mine workers unionists) ultimately led Fukuyama to conclude that leftist politics have reached their lowest ebb, being overshadowed by the neoliberalist political regime. The idea behind ‘The end of history’ was envisaged to declare that Marxism and socialism have failed miserably and the future belongs to capitalism, meaning economic systems would only be regulated by market forces.
Since the downfall of the Soviet Union 27 years ago, we have witnessed many cataclysmic events and at the same time we also see income disparity that has never been seen before
Thereafter, in the early 1990s, US President George Bush Sr. had declared that a new world order has been re-structured. In India, the Congress government also adopted a liberalist agenda and opened up its economy for the private investors and multinational companies. Pakistan in 1988, ruled by the Pakistan People Party (PPP) also retracted back from its socialist-policies- agenda of the 1970s and therefore promoted liberalisation and capitalistic policies.
There was a wave of privatisation being implemented by governments across Europe — which was extricating itself from the responsibility of the social welfare state concept. In my view, the concept of fundamentalism and conservatism also emerged as a direct consequence of this scenario. Today, 27 years since the downfall of the Soviet Union, we have witnessed many cataclysmic events and at the same time we have also witnessed an income disparity that has never been seen before.
Today, we see that wars of attrition, terrorism, civil wars and pursuit of economic interests have resulted in social destruction and wreaked havoc on poorer and weaker states. It has also resulted in disintegration of many states as well, for instance, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen. All these states have undergone anarchy and bloodshed. In the past thirty years there has been so much destruction being witnessed and it is an irony that we still presume that capitalism is the best economic system. Capitalism has resulted in massive exploitation of resources by the powerful states and subjugation of the weaker states.
In order to bring a revolution to transform a society, an audacity of hope and visionary approach are required. During Marx’s life it was only once that the proletariat revolution succeeded when Paris communes comprising of workers and lower middle classes in France controlled power for seventy days in the nineteenth century. The question arises that as long as different classes exist in our society, how can these class divisions be brought to an end? After the Bolshevik revolution, Lenin demonstrated that it was only the Marxist philosophy which comprehensively discussed the class struggle and provided a scientific approach in dealing with it.
Till now, there has been no such substitute apart from Marxism which could provide a scientific approach to eliminating the exploitation of poorer classes that exist in our society. The proponents of liberalisation policies and capitalism have not been able to fully understand the adverse consequences free market economy principles have wrought. Despite the demise of the Soviet Union and other socialist regimes, the relevance of Marxist philosophy will never be lost in the twenty first century, and it will remain under discussion for all times to come.
The writer is a human rights activist and a constitutional lawyer BA-LLB,LLM (Cardiff) and ACCA(UK)
Published in Daily Times, February 27th 2018.