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Earl Browder's grandson praises Putin

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  • thekoba@aztecfreenet.org
    The following article, attributed to Susan B. Glasser of the Washington Post, appeared on page A23 of the Sunday, February 29, 2004 edition of the Arizona
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 29, 2004
      The following article, attributed to Susan B. Glasser of the Washington Post,
      appeared on page A23 of the Sunday, February 29, 2004 edition of the Arizona
      Republic. William Browder is obviously a very well-off member of the
      imperialist grand bourgeoisie, but his grandfather, Earl Browder, was
      general-secretary of the Communist Party USA from 1930 to 1944, an
      organisation that was often accused of being a front group for Soviet
      interests, if not actually controlled by the USSR. When I was involved
      with CPUSA and the Young Communist League USA in the late 1980s, we were
      taught about Browder's betrayal of the Party. Under his leadership,
      membership in the CPUSA grew to about two millions, largely due to
      discontent with economic conditions during the Great Depression, but also
      because Marxist-Leninist ideology was watered-down with liberalism to make
      it more acceptable to American workers. During the Second World War,
      Browder took this further, declaring the temporary alliance with the American
      government to side with the USSR during the war to be a permanent state of
      affairs and promoting a doctrine of "American exceptionalism", stating that
      American capitalism was an exception and that class struggle was no longer
      necessary in the USA. In 1944, Browder dissolved the Communist Party USA.
      Gus Hall, William Foster, and a few others quickly reformed the party but
      had only a tiny fraction of the former membership They never recovered
      much membership and were soon imprisoned in Leavenworth on charges of
      "conspiracy to teach the violent overthrow of the United States government."
      There have been factions of the imperialist bourgeoisie that even during
      the Stalin administration were enthusiastic about investing in the Soviet
      Union. As Lenin said, "The capitalists will sell us the rope with which
      we will hang them." I am, however, uneasy about Browder's praise of Putin,
      for, as Engles said, when those who have been criticizing you suddenly start
      to praise you, think what stupid error you may have made.

      --Kevin Walsh

      INVESTORS BACKING PUTIN

      Russia President Called Real Ally of West Capitalism

      Moscow--To his fierce and increasingly worried critics, President Vladimir
      Putin is a grave threat to post-Soviet democracy, a would-be authoritarian
      intent on building "capitalism with a Stalinist face," as one reformist leader
      put it.

      But investor William Browder sees it differently. Never mind the arguments
      about a creeping coup by Putin's KGB colleagues, the war in Chechnya, the
      state takeover of television or even the jailing of Russia's richest man.
      To Browder, Putin is a true reformer, "the one ally" of Western capitalists
      who have come to Russia to create a new market economy but have found
      themselves adrift "in a sea of corrupt bullies."

      "What's the worst-case scenario?" asked Browder, who has bet $1.3 billion
      in the investment fund he runs on the success of the Putin presidency. "That
      I misjudged and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But I just don't think
      the objective here is Stalinism."

      This pointed debate about where Putin is taking the country is reaching a new
      pitch as Russia prepares to reward him with a second term in an election
      March 14 in which none of his opponents has registered more than single
      digits in the polls. In another twist, Putin on Tuesday fired his Cabinet,
      including the prime minister, Mikhail Kasyanov.

      No one has been making the case for Putin more ardently than Browder and
      others in the small but influential class of Western investors, investment
      analysts and stockbrokers based in Moscow. They have become the most
      consistent rosy-eyed optimists about the KGB spy-turned-president, and they
      are making money hand over fist in Russia's booming market.

      So taken with Putin are they that one of these Western brokers termed the
      president "Saint Vladimir" in a recent report, while others find ways to
      tout the latest investment case for Russia no matter what the news. Even
      the arrest of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky in October created only
      temporary jitters. By last week, the stock market had recovered the 20-plus
      percent it had lost and surged to an all-time high, making it the best-
      performing market in the world since Putin came to power in late 1999.

      "I'm one of the Putin apologists," said Eric Kraus, chief strategist of the
      Sovlink investment firm in Moscow who coined the "Saint Vladimir" phrase.
      "No bones about it," he added in an interview.

      Sounding the alarm about Putin have been independent political analysts and
      academics, newspaper editorial writers and the dwindling ranks of Russian
      liberals who found themselves voted entirely out of the Russian Parliament
      in December.

      But investment types like Browder, the grandson of an American Communist
      leader whose Hermitage Capital Management is the largest foreign investment
      fund in Rusia, have started fighting back.

      Their challenge has come in the form of e-mails circulated to thousands of
      subscribers, daily investment reports, interviews with Western media and
      prominently placed op-eds in other publications, including Browder's recent
      paean in the Moscow Times, "Making the Case for Putin." Foreign investment,
      though still modest, has followed--$29.7 billion last year, a 50 percent leap
      over 2002--as Russia's oil-fueled economy grew for the fifth year in a row.

      For many longtime Russia hands, the increasingly pointed debate hearkens to
      the Cold War feuds that split Kremlinologists into camps that remain to this
      day.

      "Once again, people's views on Russia are really polarized and nerves are
      frayed in ways we haven't seen publicly since Putin came to power," said
      Andrew Kuchins, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, whose analysts have
      been critical of Putin's authoritarian drift. "There's that sort of energy
      and emotion to the debate about Russia that I haven't seen in a long time."

      Kuchins called Browder the "chief cheerleader" for the Russian president and
      questioned the reliability of opinions being offered by pro-Putin business
      leaders who are getting rich from the bullish Russian market.

      "Putin dazzled them. ... I hope they're right, but there's just too much
      evidence that suggests the contrary," Kuchins said. "If you believe
      consolidation of a real democracy in Russia is a good thing, it's just hard
      not to be concerned about what's going on."

      Browder always disagreed with those who feared Putin, but that difference of
      opinion has widened into a seemingly unbreachable gulf in recent months as
      the Russian government launched an all-out legal assault on Khodorkovsky
      and his oil company, Yukos.

      --
      "Those persons who are Jew first and American second should not even ask for
      citizenship in our nation."

      --Madalyn Murray-O'Hair, 1982
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