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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EDITORIAL: Let Nov. 7 Be Last for Useless Party




The Communist Party is once again preparing to celebrate Nov. 7, the high holiday of its now defunct national religion. It was 81 years ago that a group of Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg and started 70 years of communist rule.


But the holiday finds a party deeply divided, lacking any policies and increasing consumed by bitter prejudices.


The anti-Semitic and violent wing of the party has come to the fore over the past week and the marches over the weekend will no doubt provide another showcase for their anger.


Communist State Duma Deputy Albert Makashov has been under investigation for making blatantly anti-Semitic threats - but this is not a big problem for his party. The Communists were instrumental in defeating a censure motion against Makashov proposed by liberal deputies on the floor of the Duma.


The Communist Party then declared war on the entire Russian television media, issuing a threat to compile "accusations" againt leading media personalities. In a country where the communist regime destroyed all freedom of speech, this sort of talk evokes terrible memories.


Many Communists may also sympathize with the lunatic ultranationalist who tried to blow up the Kremlin this week.


These worrying tendencies coexist in a party which also has a moderate wing that is looking for allies. Some Communist leaders have been flirting with Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, claiming they might form some sort of nationalist left-center coalition.


And yet in one sense, the Communists are now more influential than they ever have been. A Communist Party member, Yury Maslyukov, is now first deputy prime minister in charge of the economy.


In fact, Maslyukov's vacillating performance as minister is a perfect example of the Communist's lack of any clear policies for Russia. Maslyukov has announced numerous versions of a still-to-be published program that are long on slogans and short on content or hard figures.


The programs mix nostalgia for Soviet-era planning with sullen acceptance of the reality of Russia's free market.


This Nov. 7 holiday should be the last and the Communist Party should disband. Only a tiny fraction of people in Russia still believe the communist myth and the rump party that survives has no useful role to play.


Russia's Communists are almost unique in Eastern Europe in their failure to reinvent themselves as a modern social democratic party. Their continued existence ensures that Russia is obsessed with the past and trapped by dead ideologies.