James Miller jamiller at
Mon Apr 22 20:20:10 MDT 1996


   Gary MacLennan writes (thinking of Nicaragua):

>So my position is that there are only two destinations on the revolutionary
>track -the bourgeois stopover or the socialist station.   Let me hasten to
>add here that while there are only two possibilites in terms of destination,
>there are many ways of travelling.  How many we do not know.

   But if modern revolutions--especially in the third world--have bourgeois
democratic tasks to accomplish, they can be regarded as "bourgeois" even
when they have an anticapitalist direction, and point toward the abolition
of capitalism through the joint action of the workers and farmers.
   The Cuban revolution is a model. The July 26 Movement didn't proclaim
their goal as socialism until April, 1961, although they had already created
a workers state by 1960. But the first coalition government in January, 1959,
was more of a bourgeois than a proletarian government. But it was a
radical bourgeois government with an anticapitalist momentum, given
the revolutionary character of the July 26 movement. The coalition gov't.
gave way to a rebel-dominated workers and farmers government in the
summer or fall of 1959. The nationalization measures that broke the
back of landlord and capitalist rule followed in 1960.
   The Sandinista government established in July, 1979, initially followed
a course that had much in common with the Cuban workers and peasants
government. The masses of exploited producers had a great deal of
influence on the policy of the Sandinista government, and the FSLN
responded in a positive way to the demands and needs of the masses
of working people in Nicaragua. Was this a socialist revolution?
   In order to become a socialist revolution the revolutionary gov't.
would have had to take decisive measures against the economic
power and political influence of the domestic exploiters. Nicaragua
would have had to become a workers state. But that didn't happen.
The landlords and capitalists in Nicaragua were not nationalized
or dispossessed as they had been in Russia, China, Cuba, etc.
   Still, the revolution did advance some bourgeois tasks in
Nicaragua: land reform, national independence, development
of the Atlantic Coast (national unification), political democracy,
free development of the trade unions, etc.
   So while Gary says that there are two "destinations" on the
revolutionary road (bourgeois or socialist), you can't always tell
at the beginning of a revolution how far it will go. If a revolution
fails to make it all the way to the establishment of a workers state
that doesn't necessarily mean that the revolution is a failure. It can
make reforms that advance the country and prepare the way for
a more successful outcome the next time a revolutionary situation

   Later Gary says,

>I will conclude with a perfect example of what not to do.  It is from Louis'
>post of  the 25.3.96 and it is by Carlos Chamorro editor of barricada.

>"The new economic policy has invalidated a series of concepts that for years
>represented..a road map towards...the Revolution's economic agenda...'Social
>control', 'secure channels', price controls', 'government subsidy',
>'preferential prices for the peasantry' etc are banners of a bygone era that
>has been left behind by reality.

>This reads exactly like the speech that James Callaghan made to a British
>Labour Party conference when he announced the end of Keynesian economics.

>Instead of explaining and apologising for the retreat it is now called the
>"new reality". A new reality which is  very much like the old captialist

   The implication here is that the Sandinistas have abandoned the fight for
socialism. My feeling is that the FSLN slipped off the road to socialism in
1986-87, entering into a series of mistakes that led to their electoral defeat
in the election of 1990. Since then they have tended to disintegrate. And
their public statements now really bear little resemblance to the language
of the revolutionary Sandinistas of the 1970s and early 1980s.
   I don't think the Nicaraguan revolution was a complete failure however.
It got derailed and fell back, but the Nicaraguan people went through a
series of experiences that changed their consciousness decisively, and
made a big impact throughout the world. They are better prepared for
the next phase of struggle.

Jim Miller

     --- from list marxism at ---

More information about the Marxism mailing list