Does the CWV support Cardenismo?

By Oleg, Chicago Workers' Voice

. The following article is reprinted from the Chicago Workers' Voice Theoretical Journal, #8, pp. 13-15. It is replied to in this issue of Communist Voice by Mark's "Peasant socialism or proletarian politics" and by Joseph Green's "The ghost of Lazaro Cardenas and the present crisis in Mexico".

. Joseph Green accuses us (CWV as a whole and Julie and me, specifically) of supporting Cardenismo. Although in most cases I have not replied to Joseph's accusations, I think it might be worthwhile to do so in this case. A close look at Joseph's accusations against Julie and me will do two things. It will show the intellectual dishonesty of his criticisms and thus why it is not worth it to reply to all of his wild charges. Further I hope it will clarify a little bit more as to what the Cardenista program really is and is not.

. Here are some quotes from Joseph (Communist Voice #3, p. 23):

. Joseph: "The CWV continues to sugarcoat the politics of the EZLN. . . .
. "But when Oleg talks about the EZLN program, whose agrarian demands, whose nationalism, and whose vision of national consensus are essentially an idealized version of the program of Lazaro Cardenas, he enthuses that 'the main slogans of the Zapatistas are for "Democracy, Liberty, and Justice. " ' He doesn't refer to the connection of the EZLN's program to the program of Cardenas. Instead, he holds that the EZLN has a correct immediate program, whose only flaw is that it is 'only one step in the direction of complete emancipation of the oppressed in Mexico'-- i. e. it is only the first step. So much for Oleg's view that the program of Lázaro Cárdenas is unworkable. "
. . . . . . .. . . . . . . .. . . . . . . .. . .
. "The CWV itself has trouble differentiating itself from the program of Lázaro Cárdenas.
. "For example, Julie seems unaware that her own program for Mexican struggle, with her demands for state support for ejidos and for integrating ejidos into large-scale production, repeats basic features of the agrarian program of Lazaro Cardenas. . . .
. "The presentation of government assistance to ejidos, the development of some communal forms, and better government planning as a sort of socialism that can save the peasantry is in line with the rhetoric of the late 30's in Mexico. And under Lazaro Cardenas, there was the most massive distribution of land to the peasants in Mexican history. A large number of peasants and even some agricultural laborers were organized into 'ejidos' where they had their own land. Moreover, the Cardenas government made some attempts at building collective ejidos that preserved large-scale production. The most famous example was the organization of ejidos among the agricultural laborers of the Laguna cotton fields.. . .
. "Of course, even under Cardenas, only a minority of peasants received land, and still less were in collective ejidos, and the amount of machinery and other aid to the ejidos was insufficient. But if that is the main difference with the program of Cardenas, then Julie is basically asking for the extension of that program. And isn't it promoting capitalist illusions, as Lenin and Engels and Marx thought it was, to hold that peasant agriculture can be transformed into large-scale production, with all the peasants reaping the benefit, prior to the achievement of socialism? How can one promote the radical carrying out of bourgeois democratic reform in the countryside, and yet specify that all the consequences of the development of capitalism such as class differentiation among the peasants be eliminated? Julie's 'socialist measures' in the countryside are the dreams of peasant democracy. "

. I think these quotes illustrate a general method of Joseph--

. 1. take some statement or phrase from his opponent

. 2. expand that statement way beyond the bounds of credulity to say it is equivalent to some other stand

. 3. prove that that other stand wrong.

. I think any fair minded reader will find it an unjustifiable stretch for Joseph to argue that:

. 1. Oleg sees some merit in the Zapatista program of "Democracy, Liberty and Justice".

. 2. This program bears some resemblance to the rhetoric of Lázaro Cárdenas.

. 3. Therefore Oleg really does consider the Cardenista program to be workable even though he says otherwise.

. In regard to number 1, I did say I thought that if the Zapatistas achieved their demands for democracy, liberty and justice, it would be a step forward for the Mexican working people. Then I went on to explain how I did not find this program sufficient. I think Joseph is twisting things when he says that "Oleg enthuses" for the EZLN program.

. In any case I think the big leap of accusation by Joseph is in number 2. Joseph claims that the program of the EZLN's agrarian demands, nationalism, and vision of a national consensus "are essentially an idealized version of the program of Lázaro Cárdenas. " These programmatic points are much too general to be made the specific property of Cárdenas. Furthermore, I have not seen any EZLN statements praising Lázaro Cárdenas or saying that their program is based on his. The EZLN does trace its program back to Emiliano Zapata as their name suggests. Cárdenas certainly paid verbal homage to Zapata as do nearly all modern Mexican politicians. Joseph needs to do a lot more serious research if he wants to prove that the EZLN is idealized Cardenismo. The research I have done on Cárdenas so far does not prove such a thing.

. Joseph's conclusion is that I am really a reformist even though I say I am a revolutionary. I think the conclusion is that Joseph stretches and bends statements to "prove" that his opponents are no good.

. Joseph resorts to similar gymnastics to "prove" that Julie's program for Mexican agriculture is that same as that of Cárdenas. Joseph starts with the fact that Julie calls for struggle to keep the peasantry from being devastated and driven off the land. He then claims that this is Cárdenas's program and therefore Julie must really be a Cardenista.

. [In] fact it was not Cárdenas's program that the peasants struggle against the government. In fact he suppressed some peasant struggles. He did distribute a lot of land to peasants, but he gave a big impulse to the development of modern capitalist agriculture in Mexico. Cárdenas is by no means unique in implementing some concessions to the Mexican peasantry.

. In this same issue #3 of the Detroit journal there are two book reports by Pete Brown, one concerning the development of a particular ejido, and the other on Echeverria's agricultural program. Each of these cases show the Mexican government taking measures which temporarily and partially alleviated the plight of impoverished Mexican peasants. Pete's articles show that to get any measures from the Mexican government to do something for the peasants requires a class struggle.

. I can't make out whether or not Joseph considers any general program of political and economic demands in relation to the struggle of the peasantry worthy of his support. For example, he says, "Yet the most radical democratic measures in the countryside, measures that eliminate the marginalization of the indigenous people, provide maximum state aid to the countryside, etc. , would in the long run accelerate capitalist development among the peasantry even faster than now. " (CV #3, p. 25). Is he saying that in the countryside the struggle must be straightforward and only for socialism? Joseph should clarify.

. For my part I do think it is necessary to support the struggle of the impoverished Mexican peasantry for such things as government financial assistance and protection from the big landowners. I don't think such a position makes one a Cardenista. I think it is possible to participate in and support struggles for such reforms without abandoning the struggle to organize for socialist revolution.

. I am not carrying out agitation in the countryside of Mexico so I can't do much about trying to clarify to the Mexican peasants that there is no permanent cure for their problems outside of getting rid of capitalism. The former Marxist-Leninist Party and the Chicago Workers' Voice have tried with varying degrees of success to continue to develop agitation for socialism in connection to the living political issues we have been fighting on. We have tried to organize workers to participate with us in this fight. Yes I think that revolutionaries organizing among the Mexican peasants should organize peasants in the fight for socialist revolution while carrying out the immediate struggle against the peasants' escalating marginalization.

. Joseph likes to chop words and stretch them beyond recognition when he is trying to demolish someone, but I don't think he would come up with any substantially different formulation if he had to state his views just in a straightforward positive manner.

. Joseph will likely be hot to disprove everything I have said in this short piece, however, I would encourage Joseph to divert some of his energy into a serious study of a general political issue such as a real analysis and critique of Cardenismo. I'm not sure he can, but if he could it would be more a contribution to the proletariat than "proving" in 10, or maybe 50, pages that each and every person who writes in our journal is a worthless reformist scumbag. In fact, the more stones he throws and the wilder he gets, the less anyone cares what he says.

. To repeat my main points:

. 1. Joseph is logically and factually wrong to equate Julie's position or my position to Cardenismo.

. 2. Joseph should clarify what his general stand is on the struggle in the countryside in Mexico.

. 3. Cardenismo is not just a generalized reformist political position but a definite political program which does have a big influence in Mexico today. See the attached article for some further research I have done on this topic. [Oleg's attached article is not reprinted here. --CV. ]

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