HAVANA TIMES, Dec 8 — “USSR: four letters, four lies,” said Cornelius Castoriadis.
This year Russia was deprived of a word that was also a part of its revolutionary heritage, and most certainly a lie.
The Russian “Militia” was renamed in accordance to what it has been all along: “The police.”
In 1917, even before the Red October Revolution of that year, communities across that country were forming armed militias to replace the discredited and hated tsarist police.
Instead of police officers and uniformed guards, there emerged workers with rifles and wearing red arm bands. They organized themselves into formations to defend the public order.
With the establishment of Soviet power, the Militia became a permanent body. Bolshevik ideologues stressed the difference between it and the former Russian police and its counterparts in other capitalist countries.
But obviously, what had been a popular volunteer militia that defended the order, over time became a bureaucratic and repressive apparatus “like in any country in the world,” proving its total effectiveness in working with its secret colleagues during Stalin’s great purges” of in the 1930s.
It’s interesting that in other countries that wanted to be socialist, there was no uniformity in the names of the law enforcement bodies. Some were the “Militia,” like in the USSR, but others were called “police” – adding the adjectives “popular” or “revolutionary”. Thus in the GDR it was called “Volkspolizei.”
In Cuba, it’s the National Revolutionary Police that has maintained order since 1959, while the Militia is a formation for civilian military training in the event of an imperialist attack.
Therefore in Russia they finally decided to return the true name to what had ceased being a militia ages ago.
People’s reactions have been ambiguous though.
Some people like the change. “It sounds more professional, so hopefully it will foster a change in that direction,” they say.
Others recalled that the closest thing to the old/new name for the “organ of authority” was the title “Polizei” (pronounced “politsai”), which was applied to the militarized Nazi collaborators in occupied Soviet territories during World War II. It is a title that was indeed despised, hated and bloody.