Until now, many working people of Latvia are in illusions about bourgeois democracy, and therefore they mistakenly regard the essence of Perestroika and the role of the Popular Front of Latvia in it, and they are also mistakenly called the “Communists” of all party members who later founded numerous bourgeois parties. Such people blame Communists for 30 years of their misery, although all these 30 years Latvia has had the exact opposite system – capitalism. It has long been time to take stock of the political and economic trials that hit the head of the people of Latvia on May 4, 1990.
The processes that took place in our society during Perestroika and the so-called Atmoda1 were only spontaneous at first sight. Hundreds of thousands or even millions of people took part in them, but this does not mean that each of them was on its own and that the events were going with the flow, without a steering wheel and without oars.
In those years, the words about “organized masses” and “party as a vanguard of the class” could only cause ridicule and mockery – and it was at that time that the anti-Soviet perestroika “masses” was quite organized and well managed. The movement had not only leaders (chiefs), but also organizations.
For the successful restoration of the bourgeois-nationalist system, a strong political organization was needed that would combine disparate anti-Soviet movements, impress people with its mass character and get powerful means of informational influence.
Since Latvia’s “creative intelligentsia”, due to its economic situation, turned out to be one of the most corrupt forces in the country, it was it that was entrusted with the task of creating a movement for the restoration of capitalism in Latvia. On June 1 and 2, 1988 in Riga was held an outstanding event – the Plenum of Creative Unions of the Latvian SSR.
What are “creative unions”? In the early 1930s, “unions” for artists were created in the Soviet Union. These were not some informal interest groups and clubs, but official powerful organizations, and they brought together composers, writers, artists, filmmakers, regardless of their views on art (and regardless of belonging to a particular artistic style), but the famous among them was the Union of Writers. It was very important for an intellectual to get into a creative union. While you are not a member of the union, you are not a “creative worker”, but an dilettante, graphomaniac, amateur. And, very importantly, as long as you are not a member of the union, you will not have access to the “feeder”. Well, the plenum is just a meeting of a wide composition.
And so, on June 1–2, 1988, at the Plenum of Creative Unions of the Latvian SSR, the idea was created of creating organizations supporting Perestroika. Such an organization was the Popular Front of Latvia (PFL), the constituent congress of which was held on October 8, 1988.
The name could mislead the public (perhaps this was planned) – it was known from history that the “popular fronts” or somehow similarly called the associations of leftist forces, for example, the Social Democrats and the Communists.
Initially, the movement declared a moderate position in the style of perestroika slogans. They all started from this point – “more socialism,” “more democracy,” “follow the Constitution of the USSR.” But in the days of socialism, it would be political suicide to immediately proclaim an increase in the retirement age, the introduction of paid education, the introduction of mortgage bondage, the reduction of workers’ rights, the systematic increase in prices for consumer goods, the division of Latvia according to ethnicity, the closure of hospitals and schools, the elimination of science, and empowerment of exploiters.
And yet, from the very beginning, one could feel that the “people’s fronts” were closer to the top than to the bottom, and more like the right than the left.
Perestroika was initiated by the ruling circles of the USSR (in Moscow), all republican “people’s fronts,” all anti-Soviet parties were also organized by local ruling circles, the local elite. There has never been a case when these movements were initiated and led by urban workers or collective farm peasants. In no republic of the USSR has the janitor or loader ever become the founder and leader of the “Popular Front”…
State officials, party (political) figures, various kinds of chief executives, directors and editors, artists from state “creative unions” and recipients of money from the state – these were the ones who carried out the change of socialism to capitalism. The anti-communists came from the communist party. This radically distinguishes the 1917 revolution from the 1991 counter-revolution. In 1917, the ruling elite was swept from the top and swept out of the country, while in 1991 new governments formed from representatives of the previous regime.
It is known that according to the order of the degenerated upper classes of the ruling “communist” party, there were direct instructions on the creation of primary organizations of the Popular Front at enterprises. Nothing of the kind was close when the workers began to organize in an alternative movement – the International Workers Front of the Latvian SSR (Interfront). The Interfront immediately acquired an underground connotation, since the internationalists and socialists already felt that they were not power, but the opposition.
In 1989, the PFL holds its representatives in the people’s deputies of the USSR, and in 1990 – in the Supreme Council of the Latvian SSR. The PFL functionaries did not hesitate to use the ruling Communist Party, for which the majority of the elected PFL deputies were members of the ruling Communist Party. 1990 was also marked by a split within the CPL; from that moment on, the party actually loses power in the republic. The first law adopted by the Supreme Council of the Latvian SSR was the “declaration on the restoration of independence of the Republic of Latvia.”
What was the main goal of Atmoda? National independence? Sovereignty? Latvia wasn’t just “separated” (it could be, say, Soviet Socialist Latvia completely separate from everyone) – public relations were reorganized in Latvia, and first of all, economic ones. If sovereignty were the main goal, then there would simply be a territorial separation from the USSR, and the internal economic, social and political system of Latvia would remain the same. Thus, territorial disintegration was not the main goal and not the main result.
The main thing is that a revolution was made in the social structure and in economic relations. No one will deny that the order formed after 1991 is called capitalism. And capitalism did not happen by chance. This is the result of the political defeat of workers, workers, and the victory of the newly-minted capitalists and even landlords “Hostages of New Landlords”. Capitalism was consciously built (passed laws, implemented reforms), acting according to plan. Privatization has had a much greater impact on our society than any “national” events.
The Latvian Popular Front stood at the origins of the separation of the working class, but one of the achievements of the PFL was the unification of the disparate bourgeoisie into a single class. Now the political field of Latvia is occupied by numerous bourgeois parties. This is a palette of bourgeois parties of various shades and colors, but invariably there is one thing in them – all these parties, although they express the interests of various warring business structures, are united in their anti-labor and anti-social policies pursued by the Latvian bourgeois state.
Until now, we hear excuses from the founders of the PFL that the Popular Front of Latvia declared Latvia “a common home”. Unfortunately, in 1991 a simple worker was not able to understand the Leninist warnings that “for any moral, religious, political, social phrases, declarations, promises, one must learn to to seek out the interests of some class”2. Of course, even in the case when the movement is covered by simple slogans and symbols.
Today you can accurately determine the socio-economic background of the PFL. This is a bourgeois movement that acted to recreate capitalism and place property and power in the hands of the bourgeoisie. In the Soviet Union, of course, there was no ready-made bourgeoisie, but there was a “proto-bourgeoisie,” which had long been waiting in the wings and needed to legalize its position. And since these gentlemen (until recently, former “comrades”) did not just build a new order from scratch, but returned back to the past, they should also be considered a restoration movement. Yes, the PFL is a bourgeois restoration movement. “National independence,” “sovereignty,” “Latvian”… Next to them was always mentioned, although in the background, “market.” It is no accident that in Latvia after 1991 privatization became a priority and was carried out very rapidly and consistently.
We see a huge palette of all kinds of shades of bourgeois parties from bright brown to moderately pink. But they all come from the very Popular Front of Latvia; they all defend the ideals of capitalism, the oppression of the working people and a market economy. But even after thirty years, when everything has already become obvious for a long time, people continue to fall for the tricks of puppeteers – they are given the right to vote for these four factions of the Popular Front of Latvia every four years, now taking shape in the party of various clans of the bourgeoisie and co-opting new people with old, reactionary ideas.
Today, the bleak results of what the bourgeois-nationalist regime has led to are obvious. Here are just some romantics who naively believe that it is not the Popular Front of Latvia that is to blame, but individual politicians, allegedly “betraying the PFL ideals.” Thirty years after the restoration of capitalism, there was still no widespread understanding that this obscene organization was created precisely for this purpose so that the current order of things reigned on Latvian soil.
Workers’ Front of Latvia
Kurzeme primary organization