The Spartacists, from the defense of Soviet imperialism to the defense of doping
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 14; Autumn - Winter 2017)
The Trotskyists of the International Communist League (ICL), better known as «Spartacists», published an article in their journal Workers Vanguard (1) protesting against the suspension of Russian professional tennis player Maria Sharapova, who tested positive for meldonium.
Developed in 1975 in the USSR, meldonium is authorized in Russia and the Baltic countries (its manufacturer is in Latvia), while it has not received authorization for marketing in Europe and the United States, where it can only be purchased on the black market. It has been declared a doping substance since the beginning of 2016: it is apparently widely used by professional athletes because it increases their performances and makes it easier to recover after major physical efforts, with some teams administering it systematically to athletes, some as young as 14 !
The Spartacists merely regurgitate Sharapova’s arguments that meldonium had been prescribed to her by her family doctor for about ten years to treat various minor medical problems. But, and we find here the reason for the article, this product, they claim, «was used by Red Army soldiers in the 1980s to operate in mountainous areas during the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan against the Mujahideen, those assassins funded and armed by the United States (and who were the precursors of the Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIS). Much more than a medicine to treat magnesium deficiencies or the risk of diabetes!
We know that the Spartacists were heated partisans of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and are the resolute defenders of the so-called «workers’ states» of the so-called «socialist camp». According to them, «the hysteria around doping products» of the international sports authorities was precisely a «reaction to the international victories of the athletes who defended the colors of the Soviet Union and the bureaucratic deformed workers states of the East in the 1970s and 1980s «. Does this mean that doping, then, would be some kind of workers’ measure (though bureaucratically deformed and/or degenerated)?
At any rate, the article ends with the following slogans: «Let Maria Sharapova play! Down with the prohibition of doping products! Down with the ban on PEDs! Whether an individual uses drugs—for fun or perceived enhancement of athletic ability—is a personal choice. Down with the war on drugs!»
It is comprehensible that proletarians or marginalized elements seek and find in «artificial paradises» even a temporary escape from the capitalist hell where they live without hope of improving their lot (or help in bearing a heavy workload). For capitalism the use of drugs, illicit or licit, is a powerful means of calming tensions and of pacifying social relations, as long as this use remains within certain limits. After the great «racial» riots of the 1970s in the United States, drugs spread into the deprived areas where they had occurred: it was better for the bourgeois state to have to deal with drug addicts than with rioters. The police-led «war on drugs» is certainly a means of covert and overt cop-penetration and terrorization of proletarian neighborhoods (see the extreme example of the Philippines), but capitalism cannot and does not want to eliminate drug use. We will only recall that Britain, the «mother of democracies» and the pioneer country of capitalism, led «opium wars» in China to spread the drug among the Chinese population. And a recent and no less noxious vintage comes to mind; the CIA’s infliction of crack cocaine on the Ghettoes of America to finance the Nicaraguan «Contras».
Today, legal chemical drugs in the form of anxiolytics, antidepressants and others are an increasingly important part of the pharmacopoeia, especially in the most developed capitalist countries, while traditional drugs such as alcohol, along with all the new ones continue or are increasing their ravages everywhere. But alongside these material drugs which cause a state of well-being in those who utilize them, there is also the vast domain of «immaterial», «ideological» drugs, which are even more pernicious because they induce resignation and passivity among the exploited strata of the population, since they seek to divert proletarians in particular from the only way to put an end to their condition: the class struggle.
These ideological drugs are the various forms of bourgeois propaganda, from religious ideologies to the democratic ideology according to which all individuals are free and equal, through the various forms of nationalism, racism and so on. But they are also part of it, along with all the «distraction» operations that are constantly organized to stultify populations, «sporting events» for which the media with all their power mobilize crowds: football, rugby, cycling, national and international sporting competitions of all kinds, etc.
The rejection of the use of drugs of any type is fundamental to the proletarian struggle; but the struggle against drugs cannot be carried on in the manner of those ladies from the upper classes who used to come to preach temperance to the workers – and still less in collaboration with the bourgeois repressive forces.
Only the collective struggle against oppression and exploitation can dissuade proletarians from the temptation to resort to drugs; only a society without oppression, without misery or exploitation, the classless communist society in which relations between individuals reach a richness and harmony unknown to class societies, can radically suppress the need for drugs. Working as far as possible for the revival of the class struggle within the perspective of the communist revolution is the best way to combat the mirages of artificial paradises.
This is not the position of the Spartacists. Their French journal Le Bolchevik published this article accompanied by a photo of Marie-George Buffet; when she was Minister of Sports (1997-2012), this former French Communist Leader leader had waged a campaign against doping to combat the discredit that was likely to sink major cycling events after repeated doping scandals. The legend of the photo: «Buffet, hands off the Tour de France!» (2).
The Tour de France is perhaps the most important and popular sporting event in France. In addition to being a very profitable business, the Tour is an effective diversion from the political and social problems of the country; traditionally any government facing difficulties looks forward to the beginning of the Tour to divert the attention of proletarians and the general population. We saw this once more during the struggles of last spring against the government’s anti-labor measures: the main collaborationist unions decided to halt the movement with the pretext of not disrupting the Tour de France! Apparently the Spartacists did not even notice this...
By defending «sport» and fighting for the «right» to doping, our «Trotskyists» simply demonstrate that they are just as incapable of comprehending the role of social conservation of this eminently capitalist activity which is «sport» in contemporary society, as they were and still are incapable of realizing that the supposed «workers» states were in fact capitalist or that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan had been decided upon to defend imperialist interests and not to bring social progress to the local populations and freedom for women.
Not knowing (or not willing to know) what capitalism is, they cannot fight against it; their support for capitalism in the State form which it had assumed in the East is the demonstration that they are in fact opponents of proletarian emancipation; so, it is not surprising that they come to kneel before the intoxicant of sport and to defend the right of the proletarians to take drugs...
(1) Workers Vanguard No. 1086 (25 March 2016).
(2) Le Bolchevik No. 126 (June 2016)
International Communist Party