Letter: Russians need true socialist alternative

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Sir: It is hardly surprising that Russia has polarised between the forces of neo-fascism and Stalinism. For ordinary Russians, the attempt to introduce capitalism has been devastating. Nor should we be surprised that Boris Yeltsin's spokesman, Vyacheslav Kostikov, indicated a willingness by the president to 'find some common ground' with the fascists, as reported in the Independent ('Fascism stalks Russia', 14 December).

Attempts at privatising Russia's industry have been largely unsuccessful, partly due to bureaucratic inertia but also due to opposition from workers.

Given the recession within Western capitalism and the self-interest revealed by the major participants in the Gatt negotiations, the prospect for the development of capitalism in Russia without resort to some form of totalitarianism is very unlikely. Historically, fascism has helped preserve capitalism against revolution in countries such as Germany, Italy and Spain, albeit at a heavy price.

Fascism represents 'capitalism with the gloves off'. The West may shed crocodile tears at the failure of liberal capitalism in Russia, but countries such as the US and the UK have had no trouble in the past dealing with violent right- wing regimes, provided they kept the lid on revolution.

The problem for Russian workers is that the only alternative, at present, to right-wing populism and xenophobia are the discredited Stalinists. It is to be hoped that a genuine socialist party will arise within Russia soon to combat fascism, Stalinism and the return of capitalism. If not, the future for Russia and Europe is grim indeed.

Yours faithfully,

COLIN PENFOLD

Wallasey, Merseyside

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