1955 Afghanistan went bankrupt. A request for help addressed at the US was turned down. Krushchev and Bulganin immediately appealed to help the country located at the southern border of Muslim Soviet Republics.
They started to deal with many infrastructural problems. They built the highest tunnel of the world – leading through the Salang. By that way later the tanks got transported from Tajikistan to Afghanistan – to Kabul.
They donated a concrete housing factory to Kabul. 7000 people got employed there.
They dealt with the immigration problems of Kabul and started to develop a master plan, which foresaw overbuilding the whole town following the Soviet model – based on the heritage of the Athens Charter. 4 The first two quarters of residential buildings consisting of prefabricated concrete slabs were named Macrorayon I und II – the same way other quarters of the same construction type got named at Smolensk, Perm, Novosibirsk or Wladiwostok (or as well at Berlin-Marzahn or Halle-Neustadt). 5Today these quarters host eminently respectable addresses – some of the town’s top choice quarters to live there. They also built the first sewage treatment plant in Afghanistan there.
The Old Town with its rural, traditional mud- / adobe-buildings, which particularly within the unification of Afghanistan in the 1880s had lived an urban prosperity got overall planned as well but remained to the greatest possible extent untouched by the clear-cut of the master plan, that got modified in different phases according to the city’s growth prospects.
In the early 1970s – at the height of cold war there was an invisible dividing line running through Afghanistan. South of Kabul the US were building roads and were taking action in improving poor infrastructure. Helmand also belonged to the US-protectorate – far out from the world public. The province of Helmand sustains the most fertile soil in Afghanistan – the richest opium-harvests are to be expected here.
Underneath are the presumably greatest Uranium resources in Central Asia, which got already mapped at cold war times.
At the end of the 1970s the resistance against the strangers, who more and more are perceived as occupants is growing more and more. They drink vodka and they even interdict many Afghans reading and even owning a Qur’an – and praying. The occupants, who furthermore try to expel all ideal values out of the local subjects in the manner of master racists and that way want to commit them by force to disdainful materialism. The phenomenon of Islamism is growing to a further expanding movement, that also threatens to spread out into the Central Asian Soviet Republics Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and also other Republics – such as Chechnya.
Concerning power-political interests there’s nothing else for the central government of the Soviet Union in Moscow but the invasion in 1979 for accordingly quenching the blazing fire. They deploy a vassal regime at Kabul for keeping the resistance together with them under control. Only by these means the periphery of the Empire can be kept under control in the medium term.
The cold war enemy - NATO does indeed protest vehemently against the invasion at Christmas 1979. Lately they continue with cold-war politics and support increasingly the resistance against the Soviets on the material and logistical field – they deliver arms to single Mujahedin- fighters for the equipment of their troops and their fellowmen in the fight against the system enemy – the occupants.
In the Western, the capitalist world the movement of so called “Neo-Liberalism” more and more prevails. Traced back to an interpretation of some aspects taken from the work of Adam Smith markets should let be regulated by the “magical hand.” Precondition for that is actually, that the individual, per se defined as Homo economicus – that every single human being has enough money, that enables him to participate at – and to influence the market action.
The phenomenon of Islamism isn’t perceived as a threat in the West – after all the system enemy and cold war opponent gets dragged deeper and deeper into a hot proxy war. Just at Panjshir Valley north east from Kabul Ahmed Shah Massoud fights back the Soviets with their stodgy tanks 13 times. Panjshir Valley becomes a gigantic Soviet tank graveyard.
Simultaneously the last phase of the nuclear arms race, which already has started in the 1970s in line with NATO’s double track decision becomes more and more sustainably noticeable. The military industrial complex of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact states slackens visibly. Efficiency decreases and – in single states in Europe the resistance against the Soviet power, that is sensed increasingly as an occupation power is uprising. People also in the West acclaim the strikes in Poland – the foundation of the Solidarnosc-Trade Union there and their leader Lech Walesa.
In spring 1989 troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan. In the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev has proclaimed the politics of Glasnost and Perestroika. The country – the whole system comes to know a humbling defeat in Afghanistan. Particularly morally the Soviet Union, the world power is massively damaged. Economically the Soviet system is marching towards its ruin as well. Soviet communism has turned to paralyzed – even solidified party cadre socialism and is incapable to move towards any kind of transformation – to bring up the adequate energy, that would be essential for starting real reform processes. The “ isolated revolution without the masses” 5 finds it equivalence in the system’s incapacity regarding any change or transformation. Mediation and communication of these necessities opposite to the masses – the people trapped in the system fail. Freedom of speech, which has been achieved in the course of Glasnost doesn’t find an economical counterpart. The people rest imprisoned in a solidified apparatus – the corrupt system, that never really reached the masses – the people.
Meanwhile Deng Xiaoping, who has been reappointed yet during Mao’s lifetime has displayed the motto, that the Chinese way wasn’t a way towards capitalism or liberalism, but a way of reforms. “What we understand by ‘reforms’ is something different, which is still subject of an ongoing discussion” he says yet in May 1989. 6
When shortly thereafter the student protests on Tiananmen Square in Beijing and other – primarily student protests movements, which especially in the south of the Middle Kingdom are supported by broad parts of the population are broken down bloodily, the Chinese communist party reacts immediately: Western luxury goods, that could only be bought in so called „Friendship-Stores“ are being transferred to state-owned „Department-Stores“ and are available there by „People’s money“ – Renminbi. Soon then the Yuan – Renminbi becomes a conditioned internationally convertible currency – the second – the “shadow currency-system” of the FEC - „Foreign Exchange Currency“ becomes redundant. Already in 1992 then Deng says in Shenzhen, one of the most dynamic and most expansive special economic areas located in front of the gates of Hongkong which is still a British Crown Colony at that time, “that the biggest danger threatening China doesn’t come from the right, but from the left wing opposition, opposing the ongoing liberalization of the economy, for which the innovation of the local stock market could serve as a good example.” Further on he declares, “ that inequalities are of functional importance for growth rates and insofar private accumulation of wealth wasn’t accusable but worthy of praise: ‘Becoming rich is a great thing’” 7
The economic liberalization process in Zhonghuo – the Middle Kingdom and the limited personal freedom – the freedom of speech of the citizen, who gets more and more defined as Homo Economicus are standing in diametrical and irreconcilable opposition.
As a migrant worker, leaving the peasant estate of his rural community, which has been stamped by Confucianism from time immemorial for working at the glittering urban centers of the new world power he will never be able to reach the little finger of the “magical hand”. The Chinese countrywoman, whose feet are liberated from the rigorous wraps of her stand since very short time and who now produces Western export consumer goods in shifts of 12 and more hours – she will never arrive at a position, that would enable her a market participation as well. From a distance she might occasionally look over to her country’s glittering new creations of wealth during the rarely enacted pauses for recreation - letting her view glide from the hostel on the factory site on the outskirts of the metropolis to its center.
More and more she will sense, that also at this place in the immediate range of vision the goods produced by her and her many fellow sufferers serve exclusively for the pleasure of the upper class located there. Soon she will know that – she will see images of Chinese people living in luxury and – she will look down to her feet confusedly and remember the rigorous tight wraps around her Grandmother’s feet. Then she will see her granny’s painful facial expression making some arduous tiny steps on the muddy soil of that miserable farmstead – standing there in her village from time immemorial.
5 http://www.manuel-friedrich.de/ab/Sozistadt.pdf and http://www.timo-cyriax.de/uni/geo/Innere_Stadtzentren_Staatskapitalismus_Kommunismus_Sozialismus.pdf (only German)
6 Two Revolutions – facing the Historical Balance of the Revolutions in China and the Soviet Union; author: Perry Anderson - – Lettre International 89, Berlin 2010, P. 55 (only German)
7 Two Revolutions – l.c. – P.63 – see also – The Tiananmen Papers, New York 2001, Public affairs; author.: L. Zhang, A. Nathan, P. Link
8 Two Revolutions – l.c. – P.63
Images 23-30: photos taken by the author