Sweden: New anti-communist campaign

Left Party’s Stalinist history used to attack socialism

First in a series of articles from Offensiv, the paper of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (cwi Sweden). socialistworld.net.

New anti-communist campaign

"Democratic socialism is not more democratic than the Communist dictatorships that Ohly now regrets praising". That’s how right-wing columnist, Anders Isaksson, in Dagens Nyheter summarised a recent anti-communist campaign in Sweden, directed against the Left Party leader, Lars Ohly.

It all started with two hour-long episodes of a high profile investigation on public service television. The first concentrated on the macabre Stalinist history of the Left Party, while the second focused on Ohly’s personal role in defending Stalinism.

When Ohly was elected Left Party leader recently, he declared that he would continue to call himself a "communist". Yet he also claimed that no one would find any examples of him praising Stalinism. The party claims to have long ago dealt with its past.

The Left Party is now under strong pressure from the capitalist apparatus, as well as from all other parties in parliament. For them, it is not enough that the Left Party has accepted capitalism. Lars Ohly’s party is at present in charge of cuts in more than 100 councils and health authorities, as well as supporting the Social Democratic government. The capitalist media, however, wants more.

Fear of anti-capitalism

They fear a radicalisation among youth. The anti-capitalist movement’s criticism of transnational companies, the mass protests against the war in Iraq, the anti-establishment mood against politicians and private company bosses – all this could lay the basis for a socialist reawakening among broader layers. The campaign against communism is an attempt to nip it in the bud. The media want to associate socialism, nationalisation, planned economy and workers’ struggles with Stalinism.

This was evident when a TV reporter became upset over a district leader in Young Left demanding the nationalisation of banks. "Should we only have on bank to go to?" he shouted. Even more hysterically, he asked whether the Left Party members wanted a planned economy (something the party has not stood for in decades).

The history of the Left Party and Lars Ohly personally assists the attackers. The laudatory telegrams from the Swedish party leadership to Honecker in the DDR (East Germany) and Ceaucescu in Rumania as late as in 1989 were prominent in the TV programme.

How the party leadership was functioning was made clear on TV when former deputy leader Bertil Måbrink said that he "never read" the letter he delivered to Honecker. Ex-party leader, Lars Werner, denied that he had written the letter. And Gudrun Schyman, who replaced him as a leader, claimed that she never read the glowing reports on the DDR or North Korea because "others took care of that". The same "I didn’t know" arguments are, by the way, used today when the leadership’s support for cuts is questioned.

Ohly and today’s leadership is in total retreat. The party’s regional leader for West Sweden has left the party. A majority of the party’s MPs demand that Ohly should stop calling himself "communist", and he says that he understands their concern. He has denounced statements he made in the Communist Youth in 1980-83. When he was criticised for statements on the successes of "Marxism-Leninism", he answered, "It can of course be discussed in the light of history".

"Marxism-Leninism" in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, however, had nothing in common with Marx or Lenin. That was proved by history already in the 1920s and 30s, but for Ohly it took the total collapse of Stalinism in 1989-90 for him to "see the light". The retreat made since then, following in the footsteps of the ex-"Communists" of Eastern Europe, is to support capitalist policies. These changes have been made in order to gain votes and maintain their own positions as privileged politicians.

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November 2004