Friday, July 31, 2009

The aftereffects

As is generally known, at Semipalatinsk Nuclear Tests Site (SNTS) in the republic of Kazakhstan, 456 nuclear tests were carried out from 1949 to 1989, including 111 atmospheric explosions between 1949 and 1963...
Because of those tests, according to the Kazakh government, approximately 1.6 million people suffered from the tests, and about 1.2 million people are still now troubled with the aftereffects...

Human Suffering Effects of Nuclear Tests at Semipalatinsk,Kazakhstan: Established On the Basis of Questionnaire Surveys Kawano et al. J. Radiat. Res., 47, Suppl., A209–A217 (2006)

Back to Kawano et al:

…I believe that my parents, sister - they all died as a result of the nuclear tests. My grandson was born in 1990 having infantile cerebral palsy; we treated his disease for 10 years. In 2000 he died. I also believe that he became sick as a result of the nuclear tests and all people in the area are the victims of the nuclear tests. (Karauyl, M, 1946)

…My daughter was born in 1970, she was also sick from the moment of birth, had dystrophy in feet and lower legs and she was a mentally defective child. She died in 1997. In 1976, my son was born also mentally defective; he is the 2nd category invalid. I think they all suffered [because we live close to] the nuclear test site. (Dolon, F, 1938)

...When talking about the consequences of the nuclear explosions, there standing before my eyes is the image of my innocent daughter born in 1976, who became a victim of nuclear tests. She graduated from teachers’ training college and became a teacher. Her life had just begun, yet at the age of 20 she committed suicide. This is a result of nuclear tests. I curse the Soviet Union, which put the testing ground on Semipalatinsk soil. (Saryzhal, M, 1946)

…People who used to swim in Irtysh River before had some skin disease. Later on it became clear that, especially in the testing ground area (epicenter), an increase in the number of invalid kids and people who committed suicide, and an increase in kinds of illnesses that people were not aware of, were due to the explosions. … (Karauyl, M, 1936)

…I remembered every nuclear test, because we waited for them in fear. It seemed the earth would tumble down at any moment. Such fears have certainly affected our nerves. There are many mentally ill and mentally handicapped people in the village. … (Saryzhal, F, 1945)

Background radiation levels in the Atomkul district now reach more than 5,000 microroentgens per hour*. Nonetheless, the local people continue to pasture their livestock and grow crops there. A local shepherd told us that the military had warned him that he was grazing his flock on contaminated land, but since he had no dosimeter, he was unable to determine where it would be safe to pasture his animals. Supplying the population with dosimeters, however would not really solve the problem because they are being exposed to the strongest carcinogens, plutonium and americium, particulates of which are carried in the air and breathed by people and animals.

* "Prolonged exposure to 150 microroentgens per hour is the borderline figure for serious health risk hazards. A reading of 1,000 microroentgens is more than 80 times the level of normal "background" radiation. "

The whole Semipalatinsk project brought to you my that shining colossus of socialist compassion Lavrenty Beria!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Neo-Liberal Democracy: A Contradiction in Terms its current form, economic liberalism is perpetuating an inherently undemocratic hegemonic structure through an institutional and coercive manner that not even an authoritarian government could duplicate...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Interview: Hungary—“Where we went wrong”, GM Tamás

ISJ: GM Tamás, a prominent Hungarian dissident and now professor of philosophy in Budapest, spoke to Chris Harman about developments in Eastern Europe since the fall of Stalinism.

What was important in hindsight was that in the first two years I spent in the highest chamber of my country as a lawmaker two million jobs were lost—and I don’t think I noticed. That is one of the greatest shames of my life. I don’t think it figured in political debates at that time. There were important debates concerning constitutional rights and republican versus monarchist symbols, fights over control of state radio and television. I won’t say political conflicts were not important but compared to the economic disaster they were of less importance, and we did not see the interdependence between the two. Why did the ruling class need the centralisation of media power? Because it was losing majority support from the population that were getting impoverished. We were totally naive and our discourse at the time was that of classic liberalism and pretty ineffective. This liberal party will probably now, and quite deservedly, disappear from parliament.


From the 1920s the Stalinist system—however monstrous, tyrannical and state capitalist it was—had through urbanisation and industrialisation created the livelihoods and life forms of hundreds of millions of people. They may have been disappointed and dissatisfied with the way of life but nevertheless it was theirs. And nobody had prepared them for what was to replace it. It was not something better, not something we might call “change”, but instead the end to economy as such.

In large parts of Eastern Europe and the Eurasian landmass there was the loss of what we knew of as civilisation, which was very much dependent on the state. The state has barely started to function again in Putin’s Russia—in a very unpleasant way—but it is starting to work regularly, making records, collecting revenue, paying civil servants, answering letters, receiving citizens with complaints. But in the early 1990s even that was not available: it was a total disaster. Meanwhile we, the froth at the top of it, were celebrating the triumph of freedom and openness and plurality and fantasy and pleasure and all that. That was frivolous, and I am deeply ashamed.


Soviet-type state capitalism was a commodity-producing, wage labour based, unequal, hierarchic, repressive money economy and a class society to outclass all class societies which was extremely efficient in suppressing proletarian resistance. Revolts against that regime have always been socialist revolutions, in 1956 the workers’ councils in Hungary, in 1968 the humanistic socialism in Czechoslovakia. Solidarność was in fact no trade union but a network of territorially organised workers’ councils which initially wanted a self-management proletarian republic of a self-governing people, before repression made it into a bitterly conservative, pessimistic and Catholic movement to disintegrate at the moment of political “victory”. The Central European style of “enlightened absolutism”, of top-down reforms devised by scientifically and philosophically trained elite planners has not changed since the 18th century. “Communist” economic planners were painlessly transmogrified into neoconservative monetarist planners. For them, in a characteristically positivist manner, “socialism” was but an error in economic calculus. Marginal utility seemed more “modern” than the labour theory of value—and bureaucrats go more willingly with the prevailing fashion than couturiers.