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