April 20, 1977

April 20, 1977 | Backgrounder on Russia

Export of Revolution: Communist Reality or Capitalist Slander?

(Archived document, may contain errors)


Massive Soviet and Cuban participation in the Angolan civil war has resulted in the victory and diplomatic recognition of the MPLA govern ment (Popular Movement for Liberation of Angola As a consequence U.S. government officials as well as Kremlin-watchin g analysts and reporters have revived the long-dormant issue of communist export of revolution.1 In November of 1975, then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger complained about the Soviet-Cuban intervention,saying that it was difficult to re concile this wit h the U.S.-Soviet Declaration of Basic Principles of Mutual Relations signed in 1972 and that "we will never permit detente to turn into a subterfuge of unilateral advantage."2 When Dr. Kissinger attempted to raise the subject of Angolan interven tion duri ng the 1976 SALT negotiations with the Soviet leaders how ever, they apparently shrugged off any linkage between the two topics.

Moreover, in a strong personal attack on the Secretary. the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU Pravda questioned his logic and sharply denied any Soviet expansionist aims in Angola while admitting to their full support for the national liberation revolution there.

There are present in Angola several hundred Soviet military advisors and a Soviet ai r-lifted Cuban army of more than 15,000, all equipped with Soviet-made sophisticated weapons. Many military advisors were also sent by the German Democratic Republic along with addi-nalmili tary and economic help from other communist-controlled countries l See David Binder's well-documented article Kissinger Believes C'uba Exports Revolution Again I' New York Times, February 5, 19 76 2See New York Times, November 26, 1975 and Washington Post, January 22 1976 3See Pravda, February 1, 1976 NOTE: Nothing writt e n here/.is :to be construed as necessarily reflect ing the views of the Heritage Foundation or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before 'Congress. -2 The conclusion from such gross evidence must be made that, as in many other instance s , we and the Soviet Union are faced with a serious se mantic misunderstanding of the terms "intervention" and expansion 4 If we consult any communist source, we find that export of revolution as a concept or communist participation in an effort of the kin d is simply denied. For instance, in a 1974 interview given by Fidel Castro with the American reporters, Frank Mankiewicz and Kirby Jones Castro responded to charges that Cuba exports revolution to ather countries. Professing notyzto know what was meant by "export of revo lution I' Castro answered with these rhetorical questions Do we sympathize with revolutionaries? Yes, we do. Have we aided revolutionarLes as much as we have been able? Yes we have When asked under what conditions he would support other re v olutionaries Castro answered It is essential that they be fighting. If they are not then we don't. When they do fight, we back them 5 Castro's denial of communist export of revolution coupled with frank admission of 'supporting revolutionaires' engaged in anti-imperialist struggle is, of course, solidly backed by authoritative Soviet spokes men. They base their argument on Lenin's teachings formulated soon after the October Revolution. To our way of thinking, this denial sounds like a play on words, but su b sequent communist actions do not corroborate this For instance, a prominent CPSU apparatchik G. A. Arbatov, Chief of the Institute for the Study of the USA, uses a subtle semantic distinction between the words "export" and "support At the same time, he di s claims any communist responsibility for "instigating podtalkivaniye revolutions throughout the world by armed force.

The problem oz forms and ways of assistance by the victori ous working class to the revolution in other countries is the fundamental prob lem of any socilist state's policy, the basic problem of proletarian internationalism.6 The working class'srevolutionary success in any country where it has conquered power, and even built a new society, is not an end in it self as defined by V. I. Lenin c onsists in The proletariat's historical mission and internationalist duty 4See Jeremiah O'Leary 10,000 Cubans Fight, Advise in 8 African Nations Washington Star, January 22, 1976, p. 3 5See AIM REPORT, January 1975, p. 5, ad in the Washington Star March 2 , 1975 6G. Arbatov, Ideological Struggle in Contemporary International Rela tions (in Russian Moscow, 1970, 285. -3 7 doing the maximum achievable .in one country for the develop ment, support and stirring up of revolution in .all countries The Communists m ay reject the theory of "instigation of revolution at bayonet point to use Lenin's expression) in a country where objective and subjective prerequisites or a revolutionary situation in Marx ist-Leninist terminology are absent. Communist logic nevertheless requires rendering all conceivable assistance to the revolutionary forces wherever they are already engaged in struggle.

This assistance and support are openly admitted in numerous Soviet writings As one author states Since the first days of its existence the Soviet Union has been rendering all conceivable assistance to the revolu tionary forces of the entire world. The character and i fbrms of this assistance depend upon many conditions .8 The Communist support of revolution, he states further, under cer t ain circumstances includes military assistance whose character and forms depend upon the international situation. Imperialism's aggressive policy its armed at tack on a socialist country or on a country which has won national independence may require arme d resistance. In that case the question may arise of rendering military as sistance to the victims of imperialist 'aggression. 9 He lists Soviet military assistance to such "victims" as Spain, during the Civil War; the people's democratic countries in Cent r al and Eastern Europe; the cornmulist revolution in China; African peoples: Arab states Cuba; and "especially to the people of Vietnam, victims of criminal aggression of American imperialism tlJ-O Secretary General Brezhnev is quoted as describing Soviet a ssistance to peoples struggling for their national, political, and economic liberation as an intrinsic component of the U.S.S.R.'s internationalist duty During the first years of Soviet Russia's existence, her influence on the course of world events was d e termined mainly by the force of her revolutionary example. As the Soviet Union's economic and political power grew, not only the attraction of our example increased but also political 7LIbi.dem emphasis 'in original 8V N.-.Y$go.rov J Peaceful -Co-exiske-n c e and thg Revolutionary Process cn--Ru-ssian Moscow, 1971, p. 110 G L 91bidem 10 Ibidem. -4 economic as well as military assistance to peoples engaged in the struggle with imperialism l1 This Brezhnev speech acknowledging communist support of revo.1-ution on a global scale was made before the official inauguration of the detente policy, which as far as U.S.-U.S.S.R. relations are concerned, has been incorporated into several documents, especially the Declaration of Basic Principles of Mutual Relations sign e d in May 1972 in Moscow It has been clear since the Yom Kippur War that the Soviet Union in no way interprets these documents--contrary to widespread opinion in the U.S.--as prohibiting or even restricting its global promotion (not export of course) of th e revolutionary process.

In his speech during the CPSU Twenty-Fifth Congress, February 24, 1976 Brezhnev clearly restated the communist position Some bourgeois politicians affect astonishment and make a fuss about the solidarity of Soviet communists and th e Soviet people with the struggles of other peoples for freedom and progress. This is either naivety or most probably deliberate obfuscation. For it is as clear as can be that detente and peaceful coexistence relate to interstate relations. De tente in no way rescinds, or can rescind or alter the laws of the class struggle. No one can count on communists, in conditions of detente, reconciling themselves with capital ist exploitation.

Nor should the Soviet (or Cuban, East German, Czechoslovak, etc sup port of "the national liberation" struggle in former colonies be con sidered as the chief element in their support of revolution. The revolutionary process now taking place on a global scale is a multi faceted phenomenon and is by no means limited to communist military aid to guerilla activities in Africa, Asia, and South America, however extensive it may be. The tendency to confuse revolutionary activity with its final, armed struggle stage has recently been exposed by a life-long expert, General William Yarbo r ough All too often American policy makers are overly preoc cupied with the hardware and finite tools of the military trade. That is to say, psyschological, political and economic warfare--the prime instrument.. of Soviet aggres si.onz- seems of ancillary i mportance to many United States leaders. Cuban forces in Angola, having translated their unremarkable military talents into a massive psychological offensive, next moved into the 'civic action' phase of political warfare. Under the banner of Marxism, Cuba n forces became the forward edge of the medical, agricultural kducational and administrative assistance the Angolan economy needs so badly.12 IlIbidem, p. 111 12See Trial in Affica The Failure of U.S. Policy (Washington: Heri tage Foundation 1976, pp. 17-1 8. -5 This same author also rightly blames the U.S. preoccupation with mili tary hardware for its misreading of the actual Soviet motives for pre cipitating the so-called Cuban missile crisis in 1962, namely to main tain Cuba as a revolutionary base.

After taking the strongest possible measure short of actual war, United States experts innocently accepted the withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba as the victory they had sought.

The fact that the missiles were gone but that Cuba still re mained as a virul ent and contagious point of Soviet political and ps chological aggression was seen as a little cause for alarm. 413 This "innocence" reached its peak in statements of the new U.S. ambas sador to the UN, Andrew Yo who, to the dismay of some State Depart me n t officials saw in the presence of Cuban "experts" in Angola a contribution to that country's stability. It "stabilizes in fact the Marxist-Leninist control over Angola to the great detriment of American national interest.14 The military aspect of the com m unist "export of revolution" should ob viously not be exaggerated lest we lose sight of itsother, oZten more crucial forms World revolution or the world revolutionary process as it is usually called in thecommunxstsources, is a fusion of dif ferent, often heterogenous mass movements characteristic of the con temporary epoch. Twenty-six years ago the CPSU Program, which is still in force, described this epoch as one of transition from capitalism to socialism, of conflict between the two antagonistic social systems, of socialist and national-liberation revolutions, of capitalism's de struction and liquidation of the colonial system.

Thusi: the world revolutionary process can be roughly divided into three main sectors: confrontation of the two socioeconomic sy stems--so cialist and capitalist--the working class revolutionary struggle within the capitalist system, and the national-liberation struggle in colonial areas and developing countries.

Conflict between the two systems is regulated by the principles of pe aceful coexistence. While this concept includes limited intersystem cooperation for the purpose of avoiding nuclear conflict it not only does not .exclude class struggle and revolution but it actually facilitates their development.l5 14Cuban "stablizing i n fluence" in many Arab and African countries has been reported by U.S. intelligence for several years. See New York Times, November 30, 1975 15Fedoseyev P.N Dialectics of the Contemporary Era (in Russian MOSCOW 1966, pa 118. -6 Consequently, even the peace f ul elements of economic cooperation and competition b-etween the socialist and capitalist system which include foreign trad even the transfer of advanced technology, credits as well as agreements in the field of arms control are an inherent part of the co m munist commitment to "promote, support and stir up revolu tion" in capitalist and developing countries On the basis of his knowledge of the Western capitalist--whom he called disparagingly blind-deaf mutes, Lenin predicte'din 1921 in a note to Foreign Com missar G. Chicherin They will supply us with the materials and technology which we lack and will restore our military industry, which we need for our future victorious attacks upon our suppliers.

In other words, the will work hard in order to prepare their own suicides x6 In quoting Lenin, Mr. Sulzberger, the New York Times foremost foreign correspondent, only stated the obvious called detente Lenin looks like a stunningly accurate seer after a decade of what is Actually, this quote is only an abridgement o f Lenin's notes, which were published in 1962 by the Munich Institute for the Study of the U.S.S.R.17 Lenin expected the Western capitalist, in their rush to conquering Soviet markets, to supply the Soviet Union with advanced technology of critical import a nce in its efforts to become the first military power in the world which would enable the Soviet Union to pay for its trade with the West Lenin predicted that the Western capitalists would,close their eyes to the reality of the communist commitment to "wo r ld-wide support of revolution I driven by their "thirst for profits I 'While his observa tions proved indeed prophetic,,he could not imagine in his wildest dreams that by 1977 the capitalist system's credits subsidizing the building of socialism and commu n ism in the Soviet Union and other communist-controlled states would reach the astronomical sum of nearly sixty billion dollars He also expected them to "furnish credits There is an underlying fallacy about East-West trade heavily subsidized as it is, by W e stern credits fact is trade policy in many capitalist countries--that trade relations with the communist partners have a benefical impact. It has been ar gued that the communists acquire a vested interest in economic coopera tion, thus softening their ide o logical antagonism. This "linkage" of Soviet willingness to abandon its support of revolution and hostility toward the capitalist system is not just an American fallacy one of its greatest promoters was Dr. Henry Kissinger, who despite all evidence to the contrary clung to it until the very end of his tenure It has been a widespread belief--and in Western accomdation in the field of trade and credits and expected However 16See C. L. Sulzberger Hot Detente or Cold War New York Times February 16, 1977 l7See i ts Bulletin, May 1962, No. 5, pp. 22-24 2 as Secretary of State. Even MOSCOW'S blatant export of revolution via Cuba to Angola did not weaken his hopes. For instance, in a 1975 re- port to the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels, he insisted that i n the middle and long range all will be well, because Soviet 18 economic difficulties will force rlloscow to accept detente.

Not only has tr.ade and easy credit'failed to induce the communist controlled states to adopt a friendlier attitude toward the capi talist West, but this policy could have aery damaging' consequences for the capitalist (free-enterprise) economy. This conclusion was reached separately by two recent studies on the Soviet bloc state's indebted ness to the ~est.19 Estimating Soviet indebt e dness to the West at ,eleven' bill-ion..dollars in. 1975, theL-f-frst study argues that it would appear suicidal to subsidize the Soviet economy as long as it serves only to compensate for the drain on re- sources caused by military expenditures. 20 From t he Soviet point of view the author observes Western cooperation was not only to serve to make the Soviet economy-viable, it was devised also as a substitute for in- ternal reform, as ameansof preserving the existing politi- cal status quo in the area and. a s a helping hand in the retention of political control within the ruling group. 21 Professor Portes' study deals with the indebtedness of the entire Soviet bloc, which he estimates at about Eorty'.billion.-dollars plus an additional twenty billion dollars in loans for which no deliveries of Western goods have yet been made. Poland alone owes Western capital- ists about ten billion dollars, which by 1980 will have to be "resched uled a banking term for making new loans to save old ones from default.

However, the conununist-controlled states need not worry about their credit rate. Portes argues 18See article by Drew Middleton, New York Times, December 12, 1975, p 7. I 19See Dr. Alexander Wolynski, Western Economic Aid to the USSR Lon I I don: Institut e for the Study of Conflict 19

76. Also, an-as yet unpublished study for Professor Richard Portes of London University re ported by Bernard D. Nossiter in "Threat to West Seen in Rising Soviet Bloc Debt Washington Post, March 3, 1977, p. 17 20Wolynski, Wes tern Economic Aid to the USSR I -8 I the debt is now so big that it gives the borrower, not the lender the leverage. The Soviet Union and the satellites can borrow without fear, confident that neither Western banks nor the Western exporters can easily cut them off A collapse of loans would damage some banks and a sudden loss of Eastern orders could hit some manufacturers.22 The linkage method is actually working in reverse: communist world-wide support of revolution is facilitated by capitalist trade and c redits.

Written by Charles T. Barqch at the request of The Heritage Foundation 22Nossiter, Washington Post, March 3, 1977, p. 17.

About the Author