Conference Recording Secretary
Day 1 of the Conference, October 10, 2008
The Conference was opened by Frank Trampus, the Chairman of the Toronto branch of the CFSP. In his concise speech Trampus reminded the delegates that the goal of the Conference is the improvement of its work and its publication and that the founding principles of the organization would not be touched. Comrade Trampus quoted by heart from Lenin's “What is to be done?” and reaffirmed that the Conference would not compromise at the cost of ideology. The presidium of the Conference introduced the delegates and those who could not attend either due to personal or financial reason or because they were denied visas to Canada.
This introduction was followed by the Main Report of the Chairman of the ICFSSP and Editor of Northstar Compass Michael Lucas. Among the many issues comrade Lucas addressed were the reasons for cancelling the congress in Moscow, NATO's role in the former Soviet and neighbouring territories, also the expansion of the West, the event and causes of war in South Ossetia, the importance of the Caucasus region to the West, past arson of the Friendship House and hate mail received shortly after, there not being enough written contributions from the NSC subscribers to the magazine, the suggestion to rename the organization and a possibility of organizing the 3rd Congress in Moscow on Lenin Hills, and the call for financial help for Russian organizers of such Congress. Michael Lucas called upon the readers of NSC to submit more articles and to recruit more subscribers. He also called upon the delegates to discuss the possibility of relocation of the Council to Europe, and if so, the need for a new Chairman in Europe.
|A view of the Conference in session at the Friendship House, which was very colorfully decorated.
The report by Victor Bourenkov was read in absentia. The report consisted exclusively of the CC of the Russia Communist Youth League (Bolshevik)'s statement on the war in South Ossetia and did not include any evaluation by the Chairman of the Soviet Society for Friendship with Foreign Countries of the Council's or the magazine's work or plans for the future. The League's position was that this war was a result of the clash of imperialist powers, the USA and Russia, driven by their desire for oil and gas transportation routes. The author highlighted Russia's role in the conflict as a provocateur of Georgia into an armed conflict and a state which "did not even think of protecting its citizens". The reading of the report was followed by discussion, in which it was brought up that Russia is an imperialist state, Canada is an imperialist state as well, the USA, Turkey and Israel have contributed weapons to Georgia for this war, and complaints that Russia was not a step closer to the revolution after this little victory, as well as others expressing their support for Russia protecting South Ossetia, and concluding with the call not to support any imperialism, including Indian imperialism which is preparing aggression against Nepal.
The delegates received warm revolutionary greetings from their colleagues from far away countries, including Turkey and Chile. The delegate from Chile Eduardo Artes Brichetti, Editor of Spanish Edition of NSC, spoke with gratitude and respect of the work of the Council and Comrade Lucas. For Chilean Marxist-Leninists, he emphasised, it is important to learn how socialism was constructed and how it collapsed. He reminded the delegates of Lenin's words that conflicts between the imperialist countries for markets will always be there, but that we must maintain an independent proletarian line. To this Marina, a Soviet delegate from Canada, emphasised that the South Ossetian conflict was not a simple conflict for markets and cannot be viewed simplistically. She stressed that Russia was led into this US arranged conflict and the only decision it could make was to protect the people of South Ossetia.
|Prof. Mirko Svoboda (left)
addressing the Conference. Jan Minar awarded Chair Michael Lucas (below
left) and Vladimir Chechentsev (below right) a Medal on behalf of the
Czech Slav Committee, Czech Republic. Michael Celik, Chair of the
Canadian Slav Committee, was also awarded the Medal.
Professor Mirko Svoboda from the Slav Committee of the Czech Republic brought greetings to the Conference and warmly thanked Comrade Lucas for his dedicated work. He also read a poem in Russian which was simultaneously translated by Soviet delegate Peter. Comrade Svoboda described the Czech Republic as a puppet of the USA and referred to the neighbouring conflicts in Kosovo and Georgia. He spoke of the close brotherly relations that the various Slavic nations had developed with the USSR and stressed that this camaraderie goes beyond Pan-Slavism. Professor Svoboda said Stalin believed Pan-Slavism was a tool of imperialism and that no nation should be oppressed by another nation. He called for condemnation of the oppression of Kosovo, Iraq, Korea, Iran, Cuba, Afghanistan and Palestine. Professor Svoboda said the Slav Committee strictly condemns Georgian aggression and supports South Ossetia and Abkhazia in their independence. “We are for socialism!" concluded Professor Svoboda and together with Jan Minar rewarded Michael Lucas, Michael Celik and Vladimir Chechentsev with the Medal of Palacky, the President of the1st Slavic Congress in Prague in 1848.
This was followed by the continuation of discussion of the roots and consequences of the conflict in South Ossetia. Dr. Adelard Paquin asked a rhetorical question: what would happen if Russian imperialism did not interfere in South Ossetia?
Responding to various news items delegates cheered two farms in Estonia declaring themselves an independent Estonian Socialist Republic and requesting that Russia grant them recognition, yet giggled sceptically about Vermont's discussion of secession led by the Second Vermont Republic.
|Fallou Gueye, representing Senegal and Momar Sambe, who was denied a visa to Canada.
Fallou Gueye from the USA and representing the Union of African Workers from Senegal thanked the Executive Committee for their work in building a strong organization. He proclaimed that we should not take it easily that Russia is destroying the people of Russia, seeing what this state is doing to its people internally. Therefore, continued Gueye, we cannot say Russia protected its people in South Ossetia. His talk about oil led to a storm of applause. Dr. Rafael Martinez, a scientist from Switzerland who is fluent in Russian and was educated in the Soviet Union congratulated Michael Lucas on his 17-year heroic work of defending Stalin and brought other examples of such committed work he is closely familiar with, Proletarskaya Gazeta and Zashchita Trade Union. He called upon the delegates to continue fighting under the banner of Stalin. Peter, a Soviet delegate from Canada, defined the South Ossetian situation as Russia's fight for life. He classified Russia not as an imperialist state, but as a comprador such as Bolivia or Argentina, on which he further developed in his later presentation. Russia does not gain markets, but sells them cheap. He described Russia as a dependant country with its role in equipping Afghanistan and pointed to its most dangerous enemy, the imperialism of the USA.
The Conference was honoured by the greeting from the political prisoner Nadezhda Raks, which is published in this issue and concluded with the words: “Long live our socialist revolution!” A delegate from Pakistan was not granted a Canadian visa and instead he sent his revolutionary greetings and a poster. A greeting came from Dr. Angelo d’Angelo in the USA. He called upon the delegates to steer the Council into a greater cohesion and to exploit more actively the community of Russian immigrants who demand more Russian newspapers and more Soviet films.
|Professor Zbigniew Wiktor from Poland addressing the delegates.
Professor Zbignew Wiktor from the University of Wroclaw, Poland and a representative of the Communist Party of Poland, made a report about the situation in his country. He stated that Polish finance is not Polish, but internationally owned and controlled. Professor Wiktor especially highlighted the counter-revolutionary role of the Catholic Church and the previous Pope John Paul II. He said the Polish Church is very demoralized and looking for a new doctrine.
The Conference received greeting from a former Soviet citizen and a Nazi prisoner Kathy Swonow who is now very ill and sends donations to NSC from her old age pension cheques. She claims that the Communist International is the only salvation for the Council. The representative of the Slav Committee Jan Minar thanked NSC and its editor for tireless labour of many years. He said Slavs saved Europe from fascism, and they paid a high price for the victory. Now only Jewish people are considered victims of fascism, they forget about the Slavic people who also were the victims. The Czech Republic and Yugoslavia were destroyed and Slavic nations, such as in Yugoslavia, were separated. Now the New World Order is in place. Germany has plans to expand eastwards. Agriculture in Slavic countries is destroyed and unemployment is high. In the Czech Republic 500,000 people and in Poland 3,000,000 people are unemployed or live on the streets. Economic destruction leads to the death of the Slavic people. Ukraine and Georgia are facing NATO membership. All of this is the evidence that we are living in the last and worst state of capitalism.
Greetings arrived from Zdenek Novotny, Czech Republic, and the magazine Dialogue – a progressive publication against all revisionists and opportunists.
Redmond Guerreroreturned the forum to its main subject of discussion: how can the Council improve its work? He stated that he supports the formation of a Communist International, if it is formed against the revisionist line. He also spoke about the role of the anti-imperialist organizations, such as ILPS, International Migrants' Alliance and others, which combined are larger in their scope than communist organizations. He reminded that those organizations, who are members of the International Council, even though not communist parties, do accept the Council's credo. Delegate Guerrero called for anti-imperialist unity. He also suggested that Soviet people organise their migrants abroad as the Filipinos do.
Question 10 of the agenda was discussed – Union of Soviet Society for Friendship with Countries Abroad – their successes and problems of setting up branches in the former Soviet Republics. How to overcome this problem? Why hasn't there been an endorsement by the leadership of most of these Communist Parties in ex-USSR of the work of the International Council and that of the NSC for 16 years? How can we improve this situation?
Michael Lucas led in the raising of the perennial question: the Soviet Society cannot exist in Russia alone. He complimented the Moscow team on their work with the Russian NSC and in the Moscow branch of the Soviet Society, yet rightfully asked: why is there no or very few branches established in other Soviet republics? He also pointed out that the Council cannot hold a Congress in Moscow if the Soviet Society is not working towards it. Comrade Lucas asked not to criticise or to single out individuals, but to put thoughts together in order to find a solution in this common work. He highlighted that the Council is not blaming anyone personally and that it understands that the financial side of the problem is atrocious.
|Vladimir Chechentsev, Editor of NSC Russian Edition, and Maria Donchenko of the Vanguard of Communist Youth.
The former Chairman of the Soviet Society for Friendship with Countries Abroad Vladimir Chechentsev and AKM-TR Leader and All-Russian Communist Party of Future member Maria Donchenko responded that the main reason why no communist party in the former USSR has supported the International Council and NSC is because today there is not a single party of the Lenin type on the territory of the former USSR. Only the Latvian Socialist Party is close, but they did not have enough information regarding them. All parties formed after the fall of the USSR have been formed of former CPSU members and their features are clear inability and lack of desire to work for revolution, said Chechentsev and Donchenko. They quoted Lenin on this from "On the Tasks of the 3rd International" saying that there was no party of revolutionary communists and they could not expect their leadership. Chechentsev and Donchenko continued that the decisive role must depend on the working class. These parties have a sectarian character. They are small organizations with weak connections to the workers' movement.
Ray O. Light replied that real communists will find ways to involve the masses into the struggle and that not every fighter must be a communist. Fallou Gueye concretized the question to the Russian delegates and asked to describe the situation from the bottom and illustrate what have they tried that did not work. Donchenko clarified that it is a wrongful impression that the Soviet Society's work consists only of publishing the Russian NSC. Their main work is in creating and developing branches. They have three branches now: in Moscow, Saransk (Moldavia) and Donetsk (Ukraine). They have 150 subscribers to the Russian NSC, half of them outside of Moscow. They have a subgroup of the Soviet Society called Venceremos working on solidarity with Cuba and its prisoners. They also have a concert studio where performers play, including the group Soyuz. The Russian delegates brought to the Conference's attention the fact that none of the communist parties agreed to participate in the 3rd Congress last time it was being planned in Moscow. Chechentsev was asked about his reasons for resigning as Chairman of the Soviet Society and why political prisoners of Russia and the republics do not get as much attention in their work as the Cuban prisoners. Chechentsev also faced the question whether there were any tensions between him and the new Chairman Victor Bourenkov, to which he responded that there were none. The Russian delegates were asked about the hands on role of their new Chairman Bourenkov.
|Manik Mukherjee from All-India Anti-Imperialist Forum, India.
In the discussions, Manik Mukherjee from India pointed out that communists should know how to swim against the current, not find excuses and that the questions asked were not fully answered. Redmond Guerrerothanked the Russian delegates for their frankness which was long overdue. He said that the Council is short of information on what is going on in Russia and with the Soviet Society there. Andrey, a Soviet youth living in Canada, addressed the root of the problem being the lack of a youth movement in Russia, Ukraine (the countries he recently visited) and the world (with Canada as an example). He pointed out some of the causes of apathy and ignorance of youth in Canada as affluence and alcohol, while he drew several examples of youth organization in the former USSR, including AKM. A timely question, leading to some solution came from Sonia Boshko from the USA: Tell us why are you different? What brought you to NSC and conscious thinking? Let others follow your example. Andrey thanked first off all his parents for raising him as a Soviet citizen and an independently thinking individual. Andrey also appreciated his abstinence from parties and drinking. "How to achieve this? – A change of culture is needed in Canada. One cannot be an individual. We do not live in a forest. As long as a person lives in a society, he is a social being, not an individual." Ray O. Light picked up on this beautiful speech and suggested that shifting responsibilities to younger people is what may help the Soviets.
The delegates made presentations about the situations and political struggle in their countries. A representative of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Turkey/Northern Kurdistan briefly outlined her party’s history and milestones of struggle. In Turkey any social opposition faces brutal oppression, she said. It is the state policy to negate the Kurdish nation. The national liberation struggle is being led by the PKK. Turkish forces had entered Southern Kurdistan and retreated. Guerrillas recently attacked a police station and Turkish soldiers were killed. The delegate described modern technologies the states are using today such as thermo-cameras. Also recently 5 Kurdish newspapers were banned in Turkey. However, none of this can stop the democratic struggle. She spoke about the Ergenekon trial and the party's call on workers to follow the trial closely and observe it. The delegate stated that in Turkey absolutely nothing happens without the USA. Turkey is part of the USA's Greater Middle East project which is failing in Iraq and Afghanistan where resistance is growing. Without conquering the Middle East it will be hard for the US to keep its hegemonic role. The USA is no longer interested in creating a separate Kurdish state in Iraq. The PKK is an obstacle to US imperialism. As for an attack on Iran, it is not so much on the US' agenda now. The MLKP does not think it will happen soon. They are trying to reach some agreement with the forces there. Revolutionary forces do not support the negotiations of Abbas with Israel. Imperialism will never solve the problems, but only diminish them. Ergenekon is done in agreement of AKP and army together. The delegate also spoke about the dockyard resistance in Turkey, 111 workers died due to lack of safe working conditions on the dockyards. The workers respond with strikes. The delegate stated that NSC is an important platform, which brings together revolutionary forces from different countries. She confirmed that their party will continue their modest contribution with articles. The party recognises the urgent need for anti-imperialist forces to unite on a regional level. The conclusion: "We have a common enemy – imperialism" was saluted with a standing ovation.
This presentation was followed by a myriad of questions and just as many answers. A parallel was drawn between the Turkish dockyard workers strikes and their US counterparts' struggle. The presenter highlighted the importance of the party standing by its workers and leading them, such as in Turkey where trade unions are often forbidden, there is a lot of subcontracting and it is hard to organise. The delegate spoke highly of the communists of Azerbaijan, where to resist a more militant more proactive role of communists is a must. Old "communist" forces there are passive. As for the more active ones, even a Che Guevara meeting was attacked. She saluted the communists of Azerbaijan who in 2007 took to the streets on May Day for the first time in many years.
Redmond Guerreropresented a report about the situation in the Philippines. This country is full of targeted killings and disappearances, especially killing of the leaders of legal organizations. Under such conditions the country's main export is its people. 10% of the population have emigrated. Newspaper distribution is run by criminals. The country may face martial law.
|George Gruenthal (US), the Webmaster of Northstar Compass, and Denis Vermette of Quebec, Canada.
Dr. Adelard Paquin's presentation is being published in full. George Gruenthal, NSC Website Editor, spoke about the USA being the #1 imperialist power. He mentioned the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan and Latin America being in the process of transformation. Gruenthal discussed the beginnings of the revival of the working class movement in the USA. He recalled the historic May Day in Chicago and the struggle for an 8 hour work day and today's May Day revival by the immigrants. Delegate Gruenthal talked about some very recent developments, such as the $700 billion of people's hard earned money being given away and the new round of layoffs about to come.
A new Ethiopian comrade living in Canada greeted the assembly.
The evening ended with a supper masterfully created by John Baby, watching of a video from Moscow about the events of 1993, playing revolutionary and Soviet music, friendly discussions and visiting by some delegates of the CN Tower.
Day 2 of the Conference, October 11, 2008
Zbignew Wiktor made a presentation about the situation in Poland, which is being published as a separate article, Jan Minar from Prague in his presentation noted that the situation in the Czech Republic is very similar to that in Poland. He said the Czech government is the most reactionary. They are servants of US imperialism. 70% of the people are against the US military bases. These bases can lead to a big conflict with Russia and possibly China. They have campaigns in the Czech Republic against them.
Michael CeIik proposed creation of an organization "Nations with Socialist Heritage" which would appeal to a broad range of people in China, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and others. They used to live under hammer and sickle systems and they still like them.
Alexander Krasheninnikov asked Zbignew Wiktor about anti-Semitism in Poland, oppression of minorities and what the government does about it. This question was not addressed due to the Polish delegate's elaborate attention to other questions, such as the economic situation in Poland. The speaker reported that there are 300,000 homeless people living under the bridges in Poland; 300-500 of them die every winter. He spoke of the rising role of the Communist Party and new trade unions. However, a high percentage of workers do not have a trade union. Wiktor affirmed that it is not a revolutionary situation in Poland today. He expanded on the topic of the Catholic Church exploiting the situation to its advantage. He said there are neo-Nazis and skinheads in Poland, but not many. Most people are against the American military bases. There is a strong peace movement composed of young people from various social, anarchist and peace-loving backgrounds. Helen Lucas raised a concern about all the homeless and dying people and inquired about the role of the Catholic Church in improving their fate. A lengthy response suggested the Catholic Church is not doing much to help the poor. To this Ray O. Light proclaimed that the Catholic Church has the blood of those dying Polish people on their hands and said not to confuse pacifism with socialism. Raising the socialist banner is important. This is where the International Council plays a role, concluded Ray O. Light. The delegate from Chile Eduardo Artes said Chilean communists’ solution to the problem of achieving socialism is struggle of the masses. In Chile, they apply historical materialism in their struggle. He noted that lack of real communists and ideas hurts them most. The delegate from Turkey called upon the Conference participants to propagate socialism among the masses, to explain to people what happened really happened in the Soviet Union, to explain why we suffered this defeat. People are looking for an alternative. We have to tell the people that the only alternative is socialism, she continued. NSC plays a role in educating people about what happened and happens in the Soviet Union. She said imperialism caused many ethnic tensions on the territory of the former USSR and nationalism. The real brotherhood of the peoples was undermined starting with Khrushchev. All these nations have the same enemy – imperialism. The workers live in different countries, but their destiny is similar. Unity is needed, if not on the International level, then on the anti-imperialist, proclaimed the delegate. This comment was followed by a wild round of applause, exclamations "She is right!" and kisses by the Presidium.
Adding to the discussion of the role of the Catholic Church, Redmond Guerreroillustrated some examples of its activities in the Philippines, such as gambling, romanticising pacifism, poverty, holding evangelical training in military schools and using in its deeds step by step organizing methods the Church borrowed from Lenin.
Michael Lucas called upon Polish and Czech comrades to establish Friendship Societies in their countries and expand work for friendship with the Soviet people. Redmond Guerrerosupported this direction by calling upon all Eastern European contributors to the work of the International Council to provide the Council with contacts, not necessarily to create Friendship Societies, but to participate in the Council as trade unions, women's organizations and personalities. Fallou Gueye challenged the delegates from Poland and the Czech Republic to expand on what they have done in terms of creating an association and any work towards the Council. Ray O. Light agreed with the Turkish delegate that a united anti-imperialist front is needed, if a socialist one is not possible.
|Andrey Kuznetsov from Canada was a Youth delegate.
A question was brought to the Council to include in the agenda a discussion on whether the name of the organization should be changed from "Soviet" to "Russian". Since the Soviet Union no longer exists, some contributors and subscribers felt it would be more adequate to name the organization International Council for Friendship and Solidarity with the Russian People. After an active debate it was moved, seconded and decided by the overwhelming majority for the name of the Council to remain as is: International Council for Friendship and Solidarity with the Soviet People. Among the reasons brought up by the supporters of the original name were the following. We have discussed this question before, why come back to it? (Dr. Paquin) A change of name can feed Russian nationalism (Guerrero). It would exclude other Soviet republics. "Changing of the name would be the first step towards destruction of our organization. I am Soviet. I was born in the last years of the Soviet Union" (Andrey). Changing of the name will eliminate all revolutionary content. I was lucky to be born in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is alive while the last of the Soviet people lives" (Marina). “The ‘Soviet’ name contrasts us with the nationalist groups in the republics and highlights our socialist character. What is 'the Russian people'? Putin and Medvedev belong to the Russian people too" (Donchenko).
Helen Lucas presented the financial report which had been verified by an accountant. The report covering seven years demonstrated that every year the expenses of printing and mailing NSC are at least 15 times greater than the income from its subscriptions. Most of the issues of the magazine which go overseas are being sent free of charge. NSC goes for free to 78 countries. From the financial perspective, Northstar Compass and the International Council exist due to some donations and the enormous material support of the Carpatho-Russian Society in Canada. The numbers presented in the report did not include the rent – the Carpatho-Russian Society allows the Council to use their expensive building in downtown Toronto for free, and the labour of the most committed communists Helen and Michael Lucas.
During this discussion it was mentioned that comrades in Chile print and distribute 2000 copies of NSC in Spanish. 50% of the cost is subsidised by the International Council and 50% the Chilean comrades raise themselves.
Helen Lucas complimented Dr. Paquin's solid work on the French edition of NSC. She also expressed her original astonishment having seen the fantastic Chilean version of the magazine, which she thought was even better than the English edition. She also thanked the Moscow team for their excellent job on the Russian NSC.
|Sonia Boshko from USA receiving a
Russian Samovar as a token of great appreciation for her dedication and
help for NSC and for Friendship with Soviet People.
The two largest contributors of funds to NSC and to the International Council, Sonia Boshko from the USA and a comrade from India, were each awarded a samovar and thanked for their enormous dedication and generosity. Sonia Boshko also received a gift from Fallou Gueye sent to her from the workers of Senegal for her regular financial contributions to their anti-imperialist movement. Redmond Guerreropointed out that the donations comrades made are not money fallen from the sky, it is also the result of sweat and hard labour. Boshko is a retired teacher and it is her labour that supports the International Council and its struggle. Michael Lucas honoured other sponsors of NSC, such as Albert Thut and Ed Mervish, who passed away and shared regarding their relationships with the Council.
Following the financial report, Sonia Boshko pledged $5,000 to Northstar Compass and called upon delegates to follow her example, which they did. As a result, almost $9,000 was collected that evening. The most precious contribution came from the second youngest participant of the Conference, a Soviet teenager in Canada, Andrey, who proudly donated all the money he had: $20.
|Eduardo Artes Brichetti, Editor of Spanish Edition of NSC from Chile. Translating is Dr. Rafael Martinez.
Eduardo Artes from Chile, Editor of the Spanish Edition of NSC, made a presentation about the political situation in Chile. He said all the so-called democratic governments did nothing but enhance the Pinochet system. The constitution adopted in Pinochet's time is still active in Chile today. Multinationals are making more profit than before only with the pictures of Allende in front of them. The organization Artes represents measures its success not by how many groups it includes, but by their political influence. Their organization translates Northstar Compass under the "Back to the future!" logo. They hand out the 2,000 NSC issues on the streets and in demonstrations. Artes said that NSC is the organ of ideological culture they are for. Donchenko asked regarding the differences between the two main communist parties in Chile. Artes answered that one is revisionist and social-democratic, and his party is Marxist-Leninist.
An email from Michael Opperskalski was read in which he greeted the Conference, expressed his regrets for not being able to participate in person due to the threats received from a Zionist organisation in Canada, proposed several resolutions, spoke against the International Council taking upon the challenge of establishing a new International and against adopting a resolution about it, as well as urging the delegates to explore possibilities of future meetings in Europe or Venezuela. Opperskalski concluded his message with: Long live the struggle for socialism! Long live the struggle against Zionism!
Michael Lucas read greetings to the Conference from Barry Zwicker, a Canadian writer and journalist, former head of Vision TV, whose dedicated work in exposing the 9/11 cover-up is broadly known. Stalin's voice recorded in 1941 was played.
A message of greeting was read from high school students in Chile. They thanked us for receiving Northstar Compass and asked for more articles on Marx and Lenin, on Rosa Luxemburg, Che Guevara, history of the USSR, life of Stalin, history of the 1st International, folklore, cultures of the USSR, more on Latin America and the world.
A message was read from Slovakia which is being published in NSC with all other greetings.
Discussion of Northstar Compass and its Future
A Soviet delegate member from Canada, Marina, spoke about the importance of transition of the magazine to Internet and to using electronic technologies in its distribution. She spoke of the cost of publishing. "Can we afford this cost and labour?" She said a website will expand our audience. She suggested conducting a survey among the readers about their preference. Internet would be a suitable place for announcements and will keep the connection alive and attractive. Commentaries by the readers after the articles would be helpful, as well as references to friendly websites. As a professional web programmer Marina volunteered her help. Donchenko informed the Conference that in Russia internet connections are not common and many people do not even have computers, especially outside of Moscow. She also said that political etiquette requires an organization to have its printed publication; otherwise it is not taken seriously. She mentioned that a magazine handed to a person is a live link to a recruiter, unlike the Internet. Redmond Guerrerostated that the Council should not maintain this level of printing and mailing. He recommended keeping printing for new recruits and putting money to other uses. If we are to continue sending free magazines to others, there should be an equal exchange of literature. Ray O. Light insisted there must political leadership decided upon first for this transition to a new media, not merely technical leadership. He also mentioned that Internet access is very restricted outside of Moscow and that the Council would cut out a lot of its audience. People will not visit the site regularly. Both versions are needed. Fallou Gueye pointed out that the magazine is a tool for organizing people around it. He also proposed to ask the readers to pay for the magazine, at least in part. Eduardo Artes highlighted that the goal of the magazine is political struggle, not to take care of ourselves. He urged the Council to continue perfecting the printed version while doing some transition to the Internet. He thanked the Council for financial help to the Spanish edition and said they do not work for themselves, but for the revolution.
This discussion was postponed by the greetings from Garry Shillington from the Canadian Automobile Workers Union (retired). Shillington said in his 30 years in the union the best they could do was promote the NDP (New Democratic Party, Canada's social democratic party), but he himself is much more left than this. He works in the poorest communities of Canada and contributes to them in many ways.
The discussion on the future of NSC continued. Lucas brought to the delegates' attention that readers in 78 countries receive NSC and do not pay for it, do not say thank you and do not ask to stop sending it. Guerrero calculated that with 186 issues going to Russia monthly for free, plus international postage, the Council is spending $345+ per year per person. Various suggestions were discussed, such as printing in other countries where it is cheaper, mailing NSC as one package for local distribution (which is not cheaper than direct mailing). A package of 60 magazines goes to Australia for $350, the Australians redistribute it locally. This is not cheaper than sending the NSC individually. A Committee was elected for gradual and partial transition of Northstar Compass to electronic publishing and more efficient printing and distribution of the magazine. The Committee consists of George Gruenthal, LS, Marina, Michael Lucas, Frank Trampus, Maria Donchenko and Peter.
Greetings were read from the readers in Moldavia who have been reading NSC for ten years. They have contacted the Moscow Society, but do not receive Russian NSC.
Peter, a Soviet delegate member in Canada, made a presentation about the role of Russia not as an imperialist power, but as a comprador regime and a back seat semi-colonial capitalist state. This presentation is being published in full. It caused a stir and a lively debate. The debate on whether or not Russia is an imperialist state developed predominantly along the questions of production and industrial ownership. “Russia is a victim of world imperialism. We used to be strong. If the destruction of the country continues, in 50 years Russia will be a dependant state like the Philippines," said Peter. Other speakers, such as Mukherjee, Guerrero, Ray O. Light, Turkish delegate, Gruenthal and Donchenko disagreed and considered Russia not a victim, but a weak imperialist state.
A Question about the future Congress was discussed.
A message from Viktor Bourenkov was read saying that the Soviet Friendship Society in Moscow will provide the venue for the 3rd Congress if the International Council in Canada covers the cost of this Congress. Treasurer Helen Lucas said the main sponsor, the Society of Carpatho-Russia Canadians, cannot help any more for the Congress to be held in Moscow. Their resources are limited and they have contributed generously so far. If organizations in some countries want to hold a Congress, they should do it with their own efforts. She called upon the Russian delegates to be more independent. Ray O. Light said that if Bourenkov and Moscow comrades are willing to provide venue, if Canada gives money, then something is suspicious about this. Guerrero noted that political will and desire is needed to hold the Congress in Moscow. "If the will is not there then what is the point of holding the Congress there?" he added. Chilean delegate Artes said Chilean comrades could hold a Congress for half the cost of what it would take in Moscow.
Donchenko read a proposed appeal to the American people about the Cuban 5. Lucas expressed a concern that the Soviet Friendship Society in Moscow is more concerned and active about Cuban prisoners than about the political prisoners in the former Soviet Union, Palestine or other countries.
Ray O. Light called for more work with Soviet immigrants.
Peter announced his start of political seminars on the subject of Socialism and What Happened to the USSR, in Friendship House beginning November 9, 2008, which have been advertised in immigrant newspapers. He expects a few dozen people to attend.
Guerrero gave a toast to all political prisoners from Abu Ghraib to India and Turkey. "We will free them!" He also gave a toast to open a new era of proletarian revolution.
The evening ended with another delicious culinary contribution from John Baby, Soviet videos, concert and sing-a-long by Kosta Parousis, his Greek friends, Maria Donchenko and Alexander Krasheninnikov, playing revolutionary and Soviet music, dancing and more discussions and reinforcing of friendships.
Day 3 of the Conference, October 12, 2008
Delegates visited Niagara Falls where they drove in a rented school bus and sang Soviet songs all the way to the Falls and back, led by the mighty baritone of Alexander Krasheninnikov and by Vladimir Chechentsev, both of whom can compete in knowing more Soviet songs and still there would be no winner. The youngest participant of this Conference, 11 year old Soviet Canadian Anton, joined the delegates on this trip so he could sing Soviet songs, among them his favourite 'Tri Tankista'. Political discussions continued on the bus, with the Turkish delegate in particular being bombarded with questions about her party's struggle faster than she could respond to them. The trip strengthened the relationships and newly-born and developing friendships.
Upon return all Conference delegates discussed resolutions and all of the adopted ones are being published in full. Due to lack of time, the resolutions were reviewed and adopted by the entire Conference, instead of the resolution committee doing it. Lucas proposed opening the floor for elections of a new Editor, but there were no nominees and everyone asked him to continue holding the position due to his doing an excellent job.
What used to be the key purpose of this meeting – improvements to Northstar Compass – was shrunk to a hasty discussion towards the end of the Conference. Delegates were given an opportunity to express their thoughts on the improvements of the publication in precisely 2 minutes each. Among many valuable suggestions there were: gradual increase of the publication in the website; distribution of issues or articles in PDF; room for discussion on the site; more international material, not just Soviet; focus on the USSR, not worldwide; focus on anti-imperialist struggle internationally; articles from other progressive movements; direct relation to the struggle of the working class; balance between historical material and contemporary; more articles on Europe; inspiration of more subscriptions; improvement of paper; explanation of abbreviations; avoiding misuse of words; creative distribution; book reviews; provide ideological guideline as to what happened with the Soviet Union; computer support for the Editor; more focus as to the Council's position reflected in the choice of articles; more focus on what is to be done; more articles on practical actions. These are suggestions from 11-year old Anton who also addressed the Conference with a passionate speech calling upon the adults to take into account children's opinions: better connection to readers through learning their opinions via more interactive website; concrete descriptions, not just slogans; assessments of trends; political prisoners in the USSR.
Donchenko committed to sending the Editor reports and articles with photographs as soon as possible electronically, which was greeted with a round of applause.
The conference ended with a festive cultural celebration, singing of
the International and many toasts to the victory of socialism.
In this photograph at the conclusion of the International Council Conference, many delegates are missing due to their early departure in order to catch their transportation back home. The Conference ended with many toasts and the singing of the International.
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