It's Lonely Where Lenin Still Stands LTC THE SOVIET CRISIS

August 31, 1991

The Moscow events are bad news for the rulers in Beijing, who had squashed political reform in their own country. "Facing the changing international situation, we need to further consolidate our socialist and Communist beliefs," said People's Daily, organ of the Chinese Communist Party, as its Russian counterpart, Pravda, was shut down.

The Communist king of North Korea, Kim Il-sung, is more isolated than ever. Mikhail S. Gorbachev opened commercial relations with South Korea, whose technology and capital Moscow craves.

Vietnam was an ally of Moscow against Beijing. Now the new rulers in Hanoi are pledged to economic reform with Communist political orthodoxy, a combination that failed in Moscow. Their traditional ethnic foe, China, is their unlikely ideological companion. They cannot be comfortable.

Bad as it is for such allies, the self-destruction of communism in its bastion is worse for Moscow's clients. Cuba, which depends on Moscow for aid and 75 percent of its trade, including oil and grain, is preparing for a horse-drawn economy. Fidel Castro sees his Russian military friends in jail. He knows Russian President Boris Yeltsin called for an end to all Soviet foreign aid. Bread rationing began in Havana this year. It can only get worse.

And then there are odd non-Communist countries where the Communist Party was still a force. Like South Africa. The African National Congress must rue its interlocking directorate with the Communist Party of South Africa. If the ANC's Nelson Mandela does not know the Communists are an albatross around the ANC's neck, the Communist Joe Slovo does. Their alliance, which once guaranteed Soviet arms supplies to the ANC's guerrilla force, now brings only embarrassment.

Communism is a world movement without a headquarters, a church militant denounced from its own pulpits. No longer is mere "Stalinism" what went wrong. The statues of Lenin himself fall from the Polish border to the Pacific rim. Marxism, the creed that formed that church, is hollow and irrelevant. Its adherents in such remaining redoubts as American campuses may claim to be untouched by the scandals of such imperfect realizations of the idea as the Soviet Union. But they have lost all models, not just one. Their creed is irrelevant to the world it sought to explain.

The statues of Lenin outside the Soviet Union can only tremble on unstable pedestals.

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