Announcing the March 1997 issue of "Communist Voice":
The betrayal of the Detroit newspaper strike,
the economic base of revisionist state-capitalism,
Cuba, anarchism, Samir Amin and a bit more

. The following articles appeared in the twelfth issue of CV, vol. 3, #1 (March 1, 1997):

(Titles are linked to the full text of the article. For articles without links, the text can be found at TOC12-alt.html, which, however, is only partially formatted.)

. A brief description of these articles follows:

The betrayal of the Detroit newspaper strike

. After a year and a half on strike, the Detroit News/Free Press employees have suffered another major betrayal by the sell-out AFL-CIO bureaucrats. The union officials have told the newspaper bosses that they are calling off the strike and are willing to have the workers return to work under worse conditions that those that initially led to the strike. So far, however, newspaper management have refused to let striking workers replace the scabs.

. The Communist Voice and Detroit Workers' Voice have carried a number of articles supporting the newspaper strike and hailing the militant actions which at first took place. (See for example "Report from the picket lines" in CV vol. 1, #4, 15 Sept. 1995.) We also pointed out that the abandonment of mass action to shut down the production plant was the turning point of the struggle, and that unless the strikers were able to break out of the capitulationist tactics imposed by the bigshot labor bureaucrats the situation didn't look good ("Report from the picket lines" in CV #4, also "Will rank-and-file militancy overcome labor bureaucrat obstacles?" in CV #5, etc.) The workers had a fighting chance to win with mass tactics, but the force of the strike has been frittered away with months and months of diversionary tactics by the labor leaders. Meanwhile various opportunist groups -- including the SWP, WWP, Trotskyist League and others -- prettified the outright betrayal by the union leaders. Now the labor leaders have taken their betrayal even further, but they paint it up as victory, as they did on March 1, at a rally of hundreds of strikers outside the newspaper offices. The labor leaders talked big about how the newspaper bosses and scabs feared the strikers, while ensuring that no picket sign said "strike" anymore (just "lockout"). The labor leaders also paraded workers who had been locked out in other struggles, some with signs proclaiming that it had been 8 years, others 23 years, some even longer. No doubt this perspective is all the AFL-CIO tactics have to offer the newspaper workers.

The Korean strikes

. Another article analyzes and supports the recent Korean strike wave, which is an important action by the Korean workers against anti-worker legislation designed to roll back their past gains. It shows however that the mass heroism of the workers does not mean that one can forget about the struggle of trends that is going on among them. This is no more advisable in Korea than in the U.S. The independent trade unions (as opposed to the government-approved unions) have carried out the bulk of the strike actions, many militant actions, and braved government repression. But they too basically suspended the strikes before winning any decisive victory or definite commitments from the government (although there are supposed to be new strikes if the laws aren't actually repealed), worried about the effects of the strikes on the capitalists, and seem to be banking on the ICFTU, which is an international confederation of class collaborationist unions. The South Korean workers have proven themselves a brave and formidable force, and they have established unions independent of the repressive South Korean rulers. But the task of establishing a trend that is really independent of the capitalist framework still lies ahead.

The economic base of revisionism

. Two articles deal with the economy of state-capitalist revisionism. One of them analyzes the Cuban economy. The Cuban revolution of 1959 brought much progressive change to Cuba, but eventually the Castroists built a state-capitalist order with a new ruling class. What was the economic base of the society they eventually set up?

. The policy of the Cuban leaders went through different phases. In the first couple of years after the revolution, the Castro regime carried out some radical social reforms and, whatever its original intentions, wound up with the former property of U.S. and other foreign imperialists and as well that of the larger Cuban capitalists in its hand. In the remainder of the 1960s, the Cuban leadership experimented with various types of economic models. By the end of the 60s, the dominant model was one which gave a section of the bureaucratic elite more centralized power over the economy so that they could better carry out some arbitrary and ill-fated development schemes. When the dust of the 60s settled, the Cuban hierarchy settled down into the state-capitalist model based on the type of policies then prevalent in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. From the 70s on, the state-capitalist order has gone through periods where the mix of market reforms and bureaucratic controls changes, with the bureaucratic controls portrayed as defending socialism or as communist measures. But in fact the government controls did not stop the general development of private interests, and gradually adopted themselves to it.Although certain "left" trends promote that the Castro regime was following a wonderful new path, the basic pattern is similar to what went on in the Soviet Union.

. The article on Cuba in this issue of CV looks at some of the main features of the economic system established in the early 70s and officially lasting through the mid-80s, providing a clear and dramatic picture of a state-capitalist order. Two articles in previous issues of CV dealt with the "rectification" of the mid-80s which actually didn't change the system in any fundamental way, and another article dealt with the capitalist-type measures taken by the Castro government since the economic ruination in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Taken together, these articles show that even in countries where the means of production are predominantly state-owned, the state sector and economy as a whole does not necessarily operate on socialist principles.

. Another article in this issue of CV deals with the economy of the late Soviet Union. The bourgeoisie says that the nationalization of industry means that the economy of the Stalinist Soviet Union acted like a single enterprise or workshop, and conclude that this is the source of its faults and the oppression of the workers. The apologists of the Soviet Union agree that the nationalization of industry meant the Soviet Union acted as a single enterprise, abut conclude there was socialism in the Soviet Union. Orthodox Trotskyism also agrees that the existence of a nationalized economy proves that the Soviet Union had a socialist economic base and was a "deformed workers' state". Trotskyists of the Cliff trend denounce the Soviet Union as state-capitalist and say it wasn't any sort of "workers' state", but claim that, internally, the Soviet Union really did act as a "single workshop". The article in CV points out that the Soviet industry did not in fact act like a single workshop, and points to the vivid evidence of the anarchy of production in the Soviet economy. It documents this by referring to many important features of the Soviet economy, most of them recognized both by Soviet and western economists. It shows that these features were in the interest of revisionist managers and bureaucrats taken as individuals, but undermined the economy and the rule of the Soviet bourgeoisie as a whole. It analyzes these features by the light of Marxism and comes to conclusions different from that of the revisionist and bourgeois economists who don't see the class roots of these phenomena.

. The article points to the Marxist analysis of the contradiction between social production and private appropriation in capitalist society. It shows that this contradiction existed in Soviet revisionist society too. And it shows that the anarchy of production in the Soviet Union and the existence of private interests among the Soviet bourgeoisie, provides an unexpected and hence quite dramatic confirmation of the views of Marx and Engels that nationalization by itself didn't mean the socialization of production. The socialization of production could only be brought about by the control of the revolutionary proletariat over the economy, and not by nationalization by a new exploiting ruling class.

How the anarchists blew it

. Another article deals with the fiasco of the anarchists in the International Workingmen's Association of First International. After the split in the IWA the anarchists set up their version of the IWA at a Congress in Saint-Imier, Switzerland in September 1872. The anarchists were now in charge of their own international organization with some strong branches (federations), such as those in Spain, Italy, the Jura region in Switzerland, and in Belgium. So now the anarchists now had a chance to show what they could do, and couldn't whine about Marxist interference.

. So what happened? In about five years it was all over, and no more congresses would be called.The anarchists had organizationally wrecked their own international organization, and they had also run into problems in the individual federations. The Italian federation had met fiasco with its insurrections. The Spanish federation had proved impotent during a revolution. The Belgians deserted the anarchists after seeing how the German workers were building up a political working class party influenced by Marxism. And so on.

. The crucial point stemming from this history is that anarchism is a particular trend in the revolutionary working class movement. Anarchism is not just a vague desire for a better society.Bakunin and his followers did not give general support to the working class movement.Instead they demanded that it follow certain very specific forms -- that it disavow politics; that it be organized locally as opposed to nationally and internationally; that it rely on the general strike and the insurrection as panaceas as opposed to other actions (the Spanish federation even issued a report to the IWA's 1876 congress in Berne regretting the rash of strikes in Spain as a waste of resources, as they weren't general strikes); etc. Sentimental socialists dream that everyone professing vaguely socialist aims should unite into one big socialist organization, but the petty-bourgeois tactics and strategy of the anarchists rules this out.

. Marxists can and do work together with anarchists on some issues, just as is done with reformists and liberals too. Marxists do not stand aside from struggles, whether the strike movement, the solidarity movement in support of workers in other countries, the anti-apartheid movement, or the pro-choice movement, etc., just because anarchists or liberals or reformists are also in these movements. But the question is, do we remain satisfied with progressive forces coming together occasionally, or do we try to build a stronger and more durable unity? The working class is being bombarded today with all kinds of anti-socialist propaganda, and to stand up to it requires all-round reorganization. As in the days of Marx, this requires a consistent struggle against anarchist theory and practice.

On Samir Amin's utopia about the
bourgeois development of the third world

. This article reviews Amin's book "Re-reading the Postwar Period: An Intellectual Itinerary". It shows that Amin evades many of the issues raised by Marxist theory and does so in a very casual fashion. Having spent his whole career trying to adapt bourgeois nationalist aspirations to socialist phraseology, he cannot allow for the active role by the masses in bringing about revolutionary changes by political means. Instead, he seeks to concoct an economic recipe as a substitute for the real activity of the proletariat and the oppressed masses. Yet by studying such a book, one can become more aware of many of the features of the developmentalist view and their relationship to the Soviet and Maoist revisionists of Marxism. This sort of study is part of our work to gain a better understanding of the features of modern imperialism and of the historical conditions which led to the failures of attempts at building socialism in the twentieth century.

On the Nov. 14 protests against Netanyahu's
oppression of the Palestinians

. This article is a report on the demonstrations in Seattle on the occasion of the national conference of the Jewish Federation in Seattle, where Israeli prime minister Netanyahu and former prime minister Shimon Peres and other figures were scheduled to speak (although Netanyahu canceled). This was a major political event, and activists came out to denounce the aggressive policies of Netanyahu. As well, some vehement zionists came out to back Netanyahu.Not surprisingly, political confrontations -- both heated and direct as well as veiled, indirect, and oftentimes perhaps only partially understood -- repeatedly took place as demonstrators from four different rallies vied to have their say and, if possible, dominate the scene. The author of the report observed and participated in several of these confrontations.

. The Palestinians are oppressed not just by Netanyahu's particular policies, but by the general zionist stand, including that of the Israeli Labor Party which negotiated the mini-state deal with Yasser Arafat. The mini-state leaves the Palestinians in a difficult and repressive situation, but it marks a sharpening of the class issues in the Palestinian movement, as the Palestinian bourgeoisie maneuvers with the Israeli zionist bourgeoisie. For the masses of Palestinian toilers neither the present politics of the PLO, nor that of the Islamic fundamentalism of Hamas, nor the old politics of the PLO, point the way forward. Nor can even the politics of the intifada, that high point of militancy and struggle, provide the answer, for to continue the struggle today requires a class stand towards the Palestinian bourgeoisie as well as against Israeli oppression, and without such a stand the fight against Israeli oppression too will be hamstrung. The report traces the views and actions of the various rallies, what they accomplished and what they failed to do, and the inadequacy of the reformist stands that dominated the demonstrations (as well as of the liberal zionist stand and the Islamic fundamentalist stands). In this way, the report seeks to contribute to building up a solidarity movement with a revolutionary stand.


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