Announcing the December 1996 issue of "Communist Voice":
Cuba, Mexico, Indonesia, the struggle against "union scabbing"
and more

. The December 15, 1996 issue of "Communist Voice" (vol. 2, #6--issue #11) contains the following articles:

(Titles are linked to the full text of the article. For articles without links, the text can be found at TOC11-alt.html, which, however, is only partially formatted.)

Cuba

. Several of these articles deal with the struggle against state-capitalist revisionism in Cuba.Mark's article "Did Castro steer Cuba towards socialism in the late 1980s" points out that:

. Mark notes that to deny this reality, a number of groups "that retain the outlook of Soviet revisionist or trotskyist traditions" point to

"the so-called `rectification' period that officially began in 1986. In this period, Castro began to bemoan a whole series of capitalist afflictions that had become widespread in Cuba. He traced their origin to the formal adoption in 1975 of the Soviet (state-capitalist) model. He decried the profiteering and corruption that was rife throughout the state sector and how each enterprise looked out only for itself and not for the good of society. And he ended the policy of allowing free peasant and artisan markets in the cities. At the same time, the Cuban rulers revived the name of the revolutionary martyr Che Guevara...
. "But what was really going on in this period? Was Cuba now heading to a communist future? Was the talk against `material incentives' and for voluntary labor part of an overall revolutionary policy, or was it a cover to get the masses to accept austerity policies.....
. "While `rectification' was supposedly a period of anti-capitalist measures, this was actually the period when the role of the privatization of state assets become more prominent."

. As well, Mark analyzes a number of other features of the economy, such as the brigade and minibrigade movement, the fate of central planning, etc. Dealing mainly with the economic side, Mark showed the state-capitalist nature of the regime, and the need to help the Cuban proletariat stand up in its own interests opposed to the bourgeois interests of the Cuban regime.

Indonesia

. In late July riots broke out in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, in protest of Suharto's dictatorial rule. The immediate spark was Suharto's attempt to remove Sukarnoputri, the daughter of the late Indonesian leader Sukarno, as leader of the supposed opposition party, the PDI. In Indonesia, the type of legal "opposition" and even its leader is regarded as something to be dictated by the government. But, as Pete Brown notes, cracks are appearing in Suharto's dictatorship:

"During June riots broke out again in East Timor. ... And the week after the riots in Jakarta, rioting also broke out in the province of Iran Daya (western New Guinea). The riots in Jakarta take on added significance when seen in this light: not only are protests breaking out in far-flung parts of the archipelago against Javanese rule, but now, in addition, violent protests are beginning in the heart of Java itself."

. As the movement grows, different trends are manifest. Pete Brown discusses briefly the differences during the actions in Jakarta between the liberal bourgeois opposition, the PDI; the PRD, a two-year-old group of activists with a social-democratic viewpoint; and the actions of the masses, which went beyond both the PDI's Sukarnoputri and the PRD.

Meanwhile, on December 7, demonstrators in Seattle marked the 21st anniversary of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor with a demonstration of protest. Frank notes the vigorous spirit shown in this action, the consciousness of the activists that both Democrats and Republicans have supported Suharto and the Indonesian establishment, and the mistaken view of appealing to UN resolutions and to a change of heart in the politicians.

Mexico and peasant socialism

. This issue contains Sarah's article "The continuing crisis in Mexico", which expresses the view of the Chicago Workers' Voice group that finding the perfect ejido (agrarian co-op) reform as a central task of solidarity with the Mexican workers and peasants in struggle against the Mexican regime. In defense of this view, she argues that the peasants, as a distinct peasant class, are an integral part of the future liberated socialist society. She says that only activists prejudiced against the peasants could have the perspective that the peasantry would be, after a proletarian revolution, gradually transformed into socialist workers.

. Joseph Green's article "Once again on peasant socialism" criticizes Sarah's article in light of the present tasks facing socialist activists and class-conscious workers in the period when the rule of the PRI (Party of the Institutionalized Revolution) is tottering. It points out that

"Mexico faces democratic changes with the ongoing crisis...Whether this change comes through a deal between the PRI and the other bourgeois parties or takes place in the midst of exciting mass actions, there is not going to be a socialist revolution in Mexico at this time, but a liberalization of the bourgeois regime. If the workers and peasants are not just to be cannon fodder for a struggle benefiting the reformist section of the Mexican bourgeoisie, if they are to achieve some improvement in their situation and if the class-conscious workers are to prepare for a future socialist revolution, then the coming changes must not be dressed up in quasi-socialist colors."

. Joseph's article opposes phrasemongering about how socialist the present movement is in order to clear the way for a genuinely socialist policy for the workers' and revolutionary movements. In doing so, the article notes that Sarah has formulated a theory of "peasant socialism", which dresses up the ejido as sort of socialist. Her view that the peasantry must be maintained as a distinct class under socialism opposes the views of Marx, Engels and Lenin. This leads her to see the ejido, rather than the class struggle, as the prime focus of the agrarian program today. And it leads her into several contradictions. She opened her article with a rousing condemnation of the present "bimodal" structure of Mexican agriculture, in which the impoverished majority in small production is exploited by the large-scale capitalist agriculturists. But she proposes in effect, a system of "socialist bimodalism" in which socialism will preserve two separate systems of class ownership of the means of production, one for large-scale production and one for agricultural petty production by the peasantry as a distinct class.

. Moreover Sarah cites Luis Echeverria's administration (as president of Mexico from 1970-76 on behalf of PRI) as a time when the ejidos were strengthened and improved. This suggests that the CWV's vision of a "socialist" agrarian program based on the ejido remains within the ideological limits of PRI's old Cardenista program for the countryside, which also centered on maintaining the ejido for the peasant masses. PRI moved away from this program when it began to shift at the beginning of the 1980s to "neo-liberalism". But the old PRI program, especially in the form given it by presidents Lazaro Cardenas (1934-1940) and Echeverria, maintains a strong ideological influence on the Mexican left. Sarah's view of the ejido is in fact an idealized form of the Cardenista program.

. Joseph's article discusses the implications of these differences for policy today. The "peasant socialist" emphasis on the perfect ejido reform leads to viewing the peasantry as a whole as in struggle against the big bourgeoisie. The CWV has the perspective that the peasant movement can be completely cured of vacillation. The communist program, on the other hand, points out that the peasantry is split into different sections, from peasant exploiters to poor and landless peasants who labor for others including their rich peasant neighbors (or even have the ejido itself as their employer), and that this division has political consequences. It points out that, if recognition of these divisions among the peasants is at all serious, it means dealing with the political differences among the peasantry, and the differences between the peasantry and the proletariat. The socialist agrarian program doesn't just support peasant revolts such as those in Chiapas, but also puts stress on organizing the poor peasants and rural laborers into a force distinct from the rich peasants and from the general ejido movement. And the socialist agrarian program must not sugarcoat the historic decline of the ejido.


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