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by Ivan Lavallée, university professor

From One Film to Another

Translated Sunday 18 October 2009, by Henry Crapo and reviewed by Derek Hanson

The simultaneous release of two new films, and their treatment in the radio and television media, raises serious questions in this aftermath of the Cold War.
History does not cease to be rewritten in the context of present strategies.

Was the Soviet system backward, and did it fall because one of its spies was caught? Or is the overcoming of Capitalism still on our agenda, inspired by the resistance fighters of the Army of Crime?

Coincidentally, released simultaneously in the movie houses, two films, l’Armée du crime [1], a true monument of sensitivity, nuance and subtlety, on the communist resistance by the organization MOI [2], and the l’Affaire Farewell, a police story that is very well filmed, the story a defection in Soviet espionage.

The first will merit a long presentation by a major radio channel, except that in that half-hour program the host will never pronounce the word "communist". The second film will have the good luck to be presented in the evening news on a public television channel, and will be presented as the film record of the event that precipitated the fall of communism (!?).

What is this, if it is not propaganda? One often presents the USSR and the socialist countries of Europe in general as having been scientifically and technologically backward. That they started from behind, mounting a revolution, fought civil war, foreign intervention, a cordon sanitaire (that is, blockade), WWII, a Cold War, all are obviously ignored. No one raises the question of what is really involved. Delay over what and in what areas? Space? The Energia rocket is the most powerful rocket ever built. Electronics and computers? The 1989 issue of the U.S. journal Computers entitled "High-Speed Soviet Computers" shows that the USSR was about five years ahead of the West in building supercomputers. Microsurgery of the eye is Soviet, all modern iron alloys (in 1990), casting processes, the technology of titanium ... are Soviet. So? So it is not so simple. 

Rather than lagging behind, the Soviet scientific school is one of the foremost in the world, but the USSR had to stand up to all developed imperialist countries, the United States, Germany, France, Great Britain with their support from their colonies, having a GDP that never gets beyond a quarter that of the United States. The arms race (obligatory passage or strategic error?) has ruined the USSR, not only economically in the strict sense but also structurally with respect to the system and its possible evolution. Margaret Thatcher was not mistaken when she said at the funeral of Ronald Reagan: "I come to salute the remains of the victor of the Cold War." The Soviet Union lost the Cold War. The USSR won the battle against Nazism, but lost the war that imperialism has waged against it since 1917!

"The new emerging socialist system here is not free to develop at the optimal speed and in an optimal direction because its productive forces must successfully withstand stresses of all kinds that others impose upon it. "

These lines were written in 1969 after the disastrous intervention in Czechoslovakia. The Communists of the Prague Spring had correctly identified the problem (read Civilization at the Crossroads by Radovan Richta [3]), as did the PCF leadership, Waldeck Rochet, also, at its head, along with René Le Guen, Leo Lavallée and others. Unfortunately, the consequences have not been learned nor the lessons exploited. The productive forces of socialism had reached such a level in the advanced socialist countries, such as Czechoslovakia (and the GDR), that there arose afresh the question of the overcoming of capitalism in the Marxist sense of the term, that is, in the context of a genuine socialist democracy that is not a rehash of bourgeois democracy. Since this attempt was cut short by intervention, and a mesh was spun that would carry off the entire enterprise, Farewell or not. It is our responsibility to put this project back on the tracks. The current crisis of capitalism opens the opportunity to re-open in analogous terms the question of overcoming capitalism, guided not by those criteria driven by the dominant ideology, criteria whose credibility was lost in the financial, social and ecological crisis into which the present mode of production and capitalist finance have plunged humanity and the planet. It is in this sense that we may continue the struggle waged by our brothers in the Army of Crime. "

[1The Army of Crime

[2Main-d’œuvre immigrée, immigrant workers union. See also the English Wikipedia articles FTP-MOI, Manouchian, Epstein and l’Affiche Rouge

[3in French translation of the Czech original

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