Announcing the August 1997 issue of Communist Voice:
the twilight of dependency theory, Che and the armed struggle,
"State capitalism under workers' rule", science vs. creationism,
and more

. The fourteenth issue of CV, vol. 3, #3 (Aug. 10, 1997, 60 pages of text)
contains the following articles:

(Titles are linked to the full text of the article. For articles without links, the text can be found at TOC14-alt.html, which, however, is only partially formatted.)

These articles dealt with the following subjects:

The debate on imperialism

. In the half-century since World War II, nearly all the colonies have gained independence. Yet the world remains divided into rich and poor countries, dominant countries and subordinate ones.Dependency theorists, despite the Marxist-sounding words of many of them, held that Marxism couldn't adequately explain this. They equated the continued existence of imperialism with a lack of economic development in the dependent and newly-independent countries. They replaced the criticism of capitalist development with the view that development wasn't taking place. This in turn provided an opening for bourgeois apologists, who pointed to the existence of economic development in the Third World to claim that imperialism no longer existed. They claimed that all the painful features of life in the Third World would vanish simply with more development, while the dependency theorists claimed that there wasn't any "real" development in the Third world. They thus both agreed on something--that if there were real development in the dependent countries, it would mean solving the social contradictions and improving everyone's conditions.

. The last half-century has played a cruel joke on both the bourgeois ideologists and the dependency theorists. Unlike what the bourgeois ideologists held, development has accentuated the split between rich and poor in the Third World, both within and between countries; unlike what the dependency theorists held, it really has taken place in the Third World. It is real development, but real development under capitalism means exploitation, monopolization, environmental ruin, and all the other features pointed out by the Marxist analysis of capitalism.The Third World is developing, but not according to the ideas of capitalist apologists like The Wall Street Journal or The Economist, nor according to the perspectives of dependency theorists such as A. G. Frank and Samir Amin, but according to the description of capitalism given by Marx and Lenin.

. Three articles by Joseph Green in this issue of Communist Voice deal with this debate over imperialism. The lead article, "The twilight of dependency theory", points out that dependency theory is in crisis. Dependency theory was right to insist that imperialism still exists, but it did not give a correct picture of what imperialism looks like. It has thus failed grievously to provide guidance for the proletarian movement. It has failed to take serious account of the economic development that has taken place; failed to see that the working class must be at the center of the socialist revolutionary movement; failed to give any guidance to the reorganization of the revolutionary and proletarian ranks needed today; failed to recognize the state-capitalist nature of the revisionist regimes; etc. It has flopped on all those issues on which it sought to replace Marxism. The article "Dependency theory and the fight against imperialism" (part one) develops this in more detail, with particular attention to the views of Samir Amin and A. G. Frank. It shows how the radical dependency theorists, who pose as the most extreme critics of the Third World bourgeoisie because they tend to deny the very existence of a Third World "national bourgeoisie", ended up as advisors to bourgeois projects in the Third World. It also shows some of the way that their theories of revolution differ from that of Marxism.

. The review of Warren's Imperialism: Pioneer of Capitalism deals with the other side of the debate--the denial of the existence of imperialism. Bill Warren became prominent in the 70's--and fostered a school that lived on--that used the existence of development to deny that imperialism existed today and to glorify the historical role of colonialism and imperialism. Using the opening provided by dependency theory, he cited innumerable statistics concerning ongoing capitalist development in the Third World. While his interpretations were often fanciful and his statistics one-sided, yet the dependency theorists went thrown for a loop, as their own interpretations were also one-sided. This also shows that continuing critique of imperialism must be based on a picture of the actual features of contemporary imperialism, not on the slogans of dependency theory.

. Moreover, Warren posed as a Marxist, and claimed that his songs of praise to imperialism and colonialism were really the "traditional" Marxist views. Many of the main academic commentators on Marxism have accepted this self-advertisement of Warren, as has Samir Amin.This shows how shallow is the knowledge of Marxism among dependency theorists and academic circles.

. This debate continues to have interest today. No matter how much world development has undercut the views of both dependency theorists and bourgeois apologists, these views continue to shape the way the world is discussed today. Looking into the theoretical basis of these views, and repudiating them, is one part of upholding a Marxist view of world imperialism today.

Che and the campaign to glorify the Castro regime of today

. For some time, the Castro regime and its apologists have stepped up their invocation of Che's name. They harken to memories of the progressive revolution that overthrew Batista. Che's self-sacrificing heroism, his eloquence in proclaiming high ideas about liberating humanity from oppression and exploitation, and his role in several struggles around the world, have attracted many activists and made Che Guevara one of the most popular figures to emerge from the Cuban revolution.

. The campaign seeks to exploit Che's popularity to prevent criticism of the present ideas of the Cuban leadership and to prevent condemnation of what is really going on in Cuba today. The revolutionary momentum from the movement that overthrew Batista in 1959 has long been exhausted, and the Castro regime has been a state-capitalist regime for several decades now. For a long time now Castro has been a major advocate of revisionist ideas that undermine the proletarian struggle, and his regime has been the state-capitalist rule of a new bourgeoisie over the Cuban working class. A series of articles by Mark in past issues of CV have examined the economic base of the Castro regime, and shown how the state-capitalist system works.

. In this issue of CV Mark examines Che's views. Many of the activists caught up in the Che campaign haven't looked too closely at how these ideas relate to the major revolutionary controversies of our time. There is a view that all the controversies in the left are just so much bickering that distract from militant actions, the armed struggle, and high ideals. But a serious study of Che's ideas and of their results in his revolutionary practice show that one avoids a serious examination of revolutionary theory at one's own peril. In particular, Che sought to avoid the anti-revisionist struggle and the criticism of Soviet and other revisionist views. Mark's article notes that, despite Che's disagreements with certain Soviet policies, he also generally opposed the struggle against revisionism, whether of the Soviet or other types. This didn't allow Che to surmount the various sides of the debate or to develop a stronger revolutionary movement, but ultimately undermined his revolutionary efforts.

. This article examines Che's views. It goes into his "foco" tactics for guerrilla struggle, and why they failed in Bolivia and elsewhere. It discusses the Guevarist attitude to theory and to the anti-revisionist struggle. It also showed how Che's attitude to third world regimes had much in common with the Soviet theory of "non-capitalist development", and his revolutionary attempts against certain regimes were counterbalanced by a reformist attitude to bourgeois regimes with a somewhat nationalist or popular cover in the Third World.

. All in all, while Che's heroism has inspired activists, his theoretical views and his actions have not provided any legacy that activists could use to fight revisionism or to build up a viable revolutionary movement. This is one of the reasons why Castro, despite the disagreements between him and Che which may have developed in the latter period of Che's life, can still cover himself with Che's mystique. Che's life and the tragedy of his death show that personal heroism cannot replace revolutionary theory and the struggle against revisionism; indeed, personal heroism must extend to the struggle against revisionist ideas and forces that pose as revolutionary and not be restricted only to the struggle against the conservative bourgeoisie.

On the question of "State capitalism under workers' rule"

. The third part of the series "State capitalism, Leninism, and the transition to socialism" takes up the question of "state capitalism under workers' rule". Marxism holds that the socialist revolution doesn't in one stroke create a socialist economy and society, but the economy goes through a transitional period. "State capitalism under workers' rule" is widely said to be the Leninist view of what this transitional economy looks like. Yet in this article Joseph Green advocates that it is doubtful that this term was Lenin's definition of a transitional economy, rather than being a phrase used by him to describe only certain features of this economy. Moreover, he holds that whether or not Lenin thought that this term is an adequate definition of the transitional economy, it actually is a mistaken one, that hinders activists from grasping various aspects of the Leninist theory of socialist revolution, aspects that are especially important today in distinguishing revisionist state-capitalist regimes from pro-socialist forces.

. Nationalization by itself does not suffice to show that a regime is socialist. This was discussed extensively in part two of this series, "the anarchy of production under the veneer of Soviet revisionist planning". It was shown that the extensive nationalization in the late Soviet Union did not establish a social control over production. It did not establish a working class social control over production because the old Soviet Union was run by the revisionist ruling class;indeed, it did not even establish a unified control by the new bourgeoisie. Instead the various private and small-group interests in the new bourgeoisie were reflected in an anarchy of production. This anarchy is shown by many major features of the Soviet economy, which Soviet economists complained about for decades and could never solve" from hoarding of raw materials, machinery and other means of production by individual factories to the growing inability to complete construction projects (a phenomenon given its own name by Soviet economists--dolgostroi, or slow-construction); from absurd figures given by the enterprises to the ministries, to competition and deception among the ministries themselves.

. This being the case, the transitional economy should be discussed in a way that emphasizes not just the degree of nationalization, but also whether social control is being achieved. The term "state capitalism under workers' control" gets in the way of this. This article is designed to spur study and discussion on this and other issues about the transition to socialism in the Communist Voice Organization, and its view of the term "state capitalism under workers rule" is not necessarily the view of any other CVO member.

Science versus creationism

. This issue of CV also contains a letter from Pete Brown which was circulated among his co-workers at the place of work, and which answered issues raised by a co-worker who is a Jehovah's Witness. It shows the unscientific nature of creationism, and in the course of refuting various sophisms from Watchtower it outlines some of the major arguments for evolution. But moreover, it shows that major issues of world outlook underlie this argument, and that they are relevant to the struggle of the working class.

. The letter points out that many religious groups today try to reconcile the conflict between science and religion, saying that science and religion are both true in their own spheres. The Watchtower itself, as a more fundamentalist group, seeks to challenge science somewhat more directly on its own grounds. This helps brings out more vividly the contradiction between science and religion which is raised in a more masked way elsewhere. This is useful to examine because it affects the whole orientation of the working class's activity.

. Watchtower for example demagogically claims that evolutionism is just social Darwinism which lauds brutish competition as the eternal fate of humanity. The letter points out that in fact it is the Watchtower's religious viewpoint which preaches passivity, on the grounds that humanity cannot liberate itself. Pete shows that "science liberates, religion stifles" not only the struggle for historical truth about the past of humanity, but the struggle for a future free from exploitation as well. The causes of exploitation and war can be studied scientifically through historical materialism, Marxism, which thus establishes a base for the struggle to change society.

The Detroit newspaper workers' struggle

. Continuing CV's coverage of the Detroit newspaper workers struggle, this issue carried a report on the demonstration of June 21, which was part of two days of events called "Action! Motown '97". It deals with the trends among the demonstrators, and among the left-wing groups there. It shows that the soft attitude of most of the revisionist and Trotskyist groups to the labor bureaucrats has continued.

. CV" also reprints the issue of Detroit Workers' Voice distributed by supporters of the CVO at this demonstration, and also in preparation for it at workplaces. There were two articles. One summed up the newspaper struggle and pointed to its having been stifled by the constant efforts of the labor bureaucracy to undermine rank-and-file militancy. The other article discussed the ongoing crisis in the left, and it gave rise to some interest at the workplace and among the left-wing groups at the demonstration, with the Trotskyists coming up as heated defenders of state-capitalist regimes like Castro's regime in Cuba.

The Malice Green case

. CV also reprints the most recent issue of Detroit Workers' Voice, which discusses the latest development in the Malice Green case, with the Michigan Supreme Court overturning the conviction of one of the killer cops who murdered the unemployed black steel worker, Malice Green. This shows how the courts shield even the most blatant racist atrocities by the police.Malice Green was beaten to death with flashlights under the pretext that he did not open his hand when the police suspected he was holding some crack. The leaflet exposes the reasoning of the court as well as the stand of the "respectable" black leadership in Detroit, which sought to prevent a mass protest from breaking out against the court decision. It calls on the workers and poor of all nationalities to unite against racism.

Communist Voice through the eyes of others

. And this issue of CV concludes with reactions by two groups to CV. The Portuguese journal Workers Policy (Politica Operaria) comments that the Communist Voice is the most consistent nucleus to emerge from the late Marxist-Leninist Party. They also liked the articles on the Soviet Union and on anarchist wrecking of the First International, but say they couldn't grasp the polemics about different groups which have occupied a large part of CV.

. Meanwhile Red Star Rising Again!, which has been discussing with us the issue of anti-revisionism, announces that it has taken the anti-revisionist pledge, yet it continues to praise the revisionist regimes.

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