. The following articles appeared in the thirteenth issue of CV, vol. 3, #2 (May 8, 1997):
(Titles are linked to the full text of the article. For articles without links, the text can be found at TOC13-alt.html, which, however, is only partially formatted.)
TWO PERSPECTIVES ON MEXICO:
A brief description of these articles follows:
Apologizing for the Castro regime
or supporting the Cuban workers?
. A number of the articles in this issue center on the view of the Castro regime. In the left today, the Castro regime, and the social order it built in Cuba, are widely seen as a viable alternative to the ills of capitalism. This often stems from progressive sentiments. Activists want to be able to point to an example of socialism as the bourgeoisie crows about the alleged "death of communism" and the wonders of free-market economics. Or they feel they must rally behind the Castro regime because of U.S. imperialism's bullying of Cuba and other countries. Some hold that the former Soviet Union or present-day China are oppressive and class-divided societies, but Cuba is not.
. Views like these may originate from the best intentions, but they do not hold up to a serious analysis. The "socialist" and "communist" labels that the Cuban leaders have adorned themselves with cannot change the fact that they have constructed an oppressive state-capitalist order. If we want to really show solidarity with the Cuban workers and the gains won by the 1959 revolution, we must not only really against the U.S. blockade of Cuba, but also recognize that the revolution of 1959 died long ago. We must help the Cuban workers build up an anti-revisionist movement in their own interests, opposed both to the new state-capitalist bourgeoisie and also U.S. imperialism and the old Cuban bourgeoisie.
. A series of articles in several issues of the Communist Voice have outlined the nature of the Cuban economy, showing that anarchy of production still exists in Cuba and showing that it is state-capitalism, not an economy in transition to socialism. They also dealt with SWP's prettification of what's going on in Cuba. This issue deals with how some former anti-revisionists of the late Marxist-Leninist Party betrayed their old convictions and became apologists for the Cuban regime. (This abandonment of anti-revisionism by the majority of the Central Committee of the MLP was one of the main causes of the death of this party, which breathed anti-revisionist fire so long as it was truly alive.) The arguments used by these former anti-revisionists are similar to those used elsewhere in the left and are thus of general interest. The article by Mark compares the pro-revisionist apologetics to what's actually going on in Cuba. Three other articles by former anti-revisionists present the apologetic view.
. One of these articles is a recent movie review of Che by Sarah of the Chicago Workers' Voice.While repeatedly denouncing Soviet revisionism (or at least, its foreign policy) in this article, Sarah refuses to regard the Cuban regime and its policies as revisionist. She ends up denouncing the old MLP and the Communist Voice for calling the Castro regime "revisionist".She holds that she is different from the outright apologists for the Castro regime because she has criticisms of Castro and company, but most of the Castroist apologists also have such criticisms.Indeed, some of them say very nasty things about Castro or the regime, and yet insist the regime is still a workers' regime or otherwise worthy of support.
. Another article is a report by Jim in 1993 on a visit to Cuba, Jim being at the time a member of the Central Committee (as Sarah also was). His report contains much useful eyewitness information about what was going on in Cuba about the politics and economics of Cuba. But Jim plays down the class contradictions shown by his own observations. He even claims that it's not clear what the class differences are in Cuba, although he ends up admitting that the working class is the most "disenfranchised and alienated" section of the Cuban population.
. Another article was written by Michael, another former CC member of the MLP, as a draft article in 1993 for the Workers' Advocate, national paper of the MLP. This article met opposition in the editorial board meeting of the WA, and so never appeared. The first part of the article denounces U.S. imperialism's efforts to strangle Cuba, as the MLP always had, and recounts the development of the economic crisis. However, the article winds up identifying the system of state-capitalism with socialism. For example, it portrays austerity measures as an impatient attempt to achieve "egalitarianism".
. These articles thus are useful both for showing what the different sides of the debate on Cuba
are, and for documenting part of the disease that led to the MLP's death.
Two Perspectives on Mexico
. Several other articles in this issue of the Communist Voice center on the question of revolutionary work in Mexico. A hot polemic has been going on between the Communist Voice and the Chicago Workers Voice on this issue. CV reprints in full the latest salvo from the CWV, which is an article by CWV's Anita Jones de Sandoval "The fight for democratic demands and the socialist revolution in Mexico". This article claims that taking democratic demands to their "revolutionary (not socialist but revolutionary) limits" will in itself gather forces for socialism. In support of this, Anita advocates that "there is a dual nature to revolution in Mexico", which is sort of both a democratic and socialist revolution and in which democratic demands sort of have a dual character. She says this is similar to the democratic revolution of 1905 in Russia.
. In response, my article "Taking democracy to the limit, or organizing a socialist movement" advocates that socialist activists not only have to take part in the general democratic movement but also take up particular tasks for the building of a socialist movement. I have previously listed a number of these tasks, but Anita and the CWV stay stubbornly silent about them. With respect to revolution, the issue isn't that of the "dual nature" of the Mexican revolution, but of the fact that social revolution is not imminent in Mexico. The issue is how to carry out revolutionary work at a time when the socialist revolution is far off, the proletariat is disorganized, and the ongoing crises are leading to a "democratization" of the bourgeois regime but not a social revolution. The CWV won't look the present situation in Mexico in the face. Anita instead evades the question by presenting the current situation as very revolutionary; comparing the crumbling of the PRI regime to the democratic revolution of 1905 in Russia; and changing her conception of revolution to fit whatever happens to be going on at the present.
. In my article "Marxist theory on democracy and socialism in relation to revolutionary work in
Mexico", I look more closely at the theoretical points about the "dual nature of revolution". Anita
presents her views as Leninism, so this provides an opportunity to take a look at Lenin's theory of
democratic revolution. I point out that Anita not only obliterates the Marxist distinction between
democratic and socialist revolutions, but also the views she is putting forward don't make
communist sense even in a democratic revolution. Lenin emphasizes repeatedly the need to to
build up the independent socialist movement of the working class even while participating
wholeheartedly in a democratic revolution and rendering zealous support to the peasant
revolutionary movement. Anita also presents the liberal bourgeoisie as a supporter of the peasant
struggle for land, while Lenin presents it as betraying that struggle. Such an error by Anita is
connected to CWV's prettification of the old Cardenista and Echeverrista politics of PRI, prior to
its turn to "neo-liberal" politics.
General strike shakes up Ecuador
. An article by Pete Brown discusses the crisis in Ecuador in early February this year. The
working class rose up to oppose the brutal austerity measures put forward by President Abdala
Bucaram and forced him out of office. But, Pete points out, "leave it to the media to focus on the
most backward features of any situation". The American media made a joke of it, painting the
president as a weirdo who styled himself El Loco and who was voted mentally incompetent when
the Ecuadorian congress wanted to get rid of him. The media focused on Bucaram's antics and
played down the class struggle. Bucaram had gotten elected with the largest margin in Ecuador's
history with populist rhetoric against the austerity program of the previous government. Once in
power, Bucaram did a 180 degree turnaround and stepped up the austerity drive, whereupon he
rapidly became the most hated president in memory. The real reason the Ecuadorian congress
voted him out was because he became a liability due to mass opposition.This whole episode
show that the working class' opposition to exploitation, and bourgeois efforts to suppress the
working class, remain at the center of politics. And the brief history of Bucaram's administration
also shows that the working class has to build its own organizations and not have illusions in
politicians who are elected with popular slogans but are not tied to the workers' struggle.
. A brief article by Pete Brown discusses a recent article in Time magazine about the probable
lifting of the ban on sales of late-model American jets to Latin American countries.
Timemagazine brings out some fascinating facts about how the arms merchants sell to both sides
of a conflict. But Time magazine connects the influence of the arms merchants only to campaign
contributions and misses the more intimate connection of today's never-ending militarization to
present-day capitalism and imperialism.
. In the article "A report on the Nov. 14 demonstrations in Seattle: On the protests against Netanyahu's oppression of the Palestinians" in the last issue of Communist Voice (vol. 3, #1, March 1, 1997, pp. 43-46), the second line was accidentally omitted. (This was corrected in some of the copies of the journal, but most had already been sent out before the error was discovered.) The first two sentences should read as follows:
". From Nov. 13 through 16 the Jewish Federation held its national conference in Seattle. Scheduled to speak were Binyamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres (the present and former Israeli prime ministers) as well as Natan Sharansky."
Last changed on February 24, 2106.