Louis N Proyect
lnp3 at columbia.edu
Sat May 4 03:27:34 MDT 1996
On Fri, 3 May 1996, James Miller wrote:
> But here I believe that Louis avoids the political question. What he
> wants to say, but doesn't, is that there was no land left to redistribute
> to the small peasants. That is the idea he tries to indirectly express.
> As an apologist for the rightward turn of the Sandinistas, he thinks
> that the FSLN made the correct decision by ending the land reform
> in 1989.
Louis: Ok, let's divide up the land. When the land is divided up, it is
used to produce corn and beans to feed hungry campesinos. Fine. It is no
longer used to produce coffee, cotton and livestock. Where does Nicaragua
get foreign exchange now? Those big holdings are used to produce
commodities for export. Oh, no foreign exchange. That means no cash for
machinery, medicine, etc. Hmmmm, that won't work. Well, then why don't we
just turn over these big properties to the campesinos and let them run
them as state farms. They will still produce for the export market, but
the farms will be "people's property" instead of private property. Oh,
gosh, just thought of something. Those big farms are extremely complex
operations and need highly skilled people to administer them, including
people with accounting skills. But when the farms become "people's
property", all of the skilled people disappear to Miami. Who steps into
their place? Oh, says Minister of Agriculture Jim Miller, I didn't think
of that. He then realizes that he has the solution. He says, "the
revolution transforms people." Whether it transforms them into accountants
is another question. These were exactly the sorts of problems Nicaragua
was facing. How do I know that? My organization reported directly to
Carl Oquist, the chief economist of the Nicaraguan government.
> Louis has his facts. I think he's proved that he's qualified to be an
> accountant or a statistician. That's good. The revolution needs accountants
> and statisticians.
Louis: Lenin was keen on statistics. I bet you didn't know that, Miller.
In Neil Harding's "Lenin's Political Thought", there's reference to the
fact that Lenin was always blowing up because the Russian Social Democracy
was not assiduous enough in its use of correct and reliable statistics.
Lenin's articles and speeches are jammed with statistics, such as
those found in "Imperialism". It wouldn't hurt to get into this habit
yourself, Miller. This has nothing to do with number-crunching. It has to
do with veracity, something you are not very good at, Mr. "Latifundia".
> He argues as if all my criticisms of the FSLN are
> incorrect. He can call their policy "wrong," yet he won't make any
> specific criticisms.
Louis: I never once said that your "criticisms" were wrong. I simply said
that you don't provide a Marxist analysis of the decline of the Nicaraguan
revolution as Trotsky attempted to do with the Russian revolution. My
guess is that the SWP has simply lost its grasp of the Marxist method and
relies on moralistic condemnation of the shortcomings of others.
> I didn't "remind" Steve Keen of anything at all. He didn't agree with
> the labor theory of value because he didn't understand it. His PhD thesis
> (which I still have in my computer) is a disgraceful distortion of Marx's
> ideas--as dishonest a piece of work as I've ever seen.
Louis: Come to think of it, this is the sort of thing you should stick to.
Hounding academics, that is. You don't have any understanding of how
living revolutions take place and should stick to debates over LTV and
FROP. You and Rodwell, as a matter of fact, should constitute yourself as
the list experts on these questions, but, PLEASE, stop trying to explain
phenomena such as the Sandinista revolution.
> It won't do me any good to claim that the SWP members act like
> revolutionaries. He won't believe it. He thinks they are sectarian and
> abstentionist. So, all I can say is that if there are others on the list
> who think it's possible that SWP members are doers, not just talkers,
> and would like to find out, you can access the Militant on the internet.
Louis: You misunderstand me, Miller. I think you are revolutionaries. What
I question is your arrogant assumption that you were a "sister"
organization to the FSLN which had made a revolution. This sibling
relationship was something that escaped their attention somehow. (Daniel
Ortega: "Remind me to stop at West St. when I get to New York. I have
to drop in on my relatives".) You believe that you are part of a worldwide
communist current that includes the Cuban CP. You should get out of the
habit of thinking this way. You are a group that represents 1/400,000 of
the American people, so it a preposterous notion to have ever considered
yourself a sibling of the FSLN, let alone the Cuban CP.
> The NEP was a controlled retreat, made by a revolutionary
> leadership to save the revolution. The Cubans are doing the same
> thing now. But the Sandinistas collapsed, abandoned the revolution,
> and gave in to capitalism.
Louis: It would take a very long post to explain how false an
understanding Miller has of the NEP, but suffice it to say that it
contained the seeds of the destruction of Lenin's original project. The
NEP-man and the bureaucrat, represented by Bukharin and Stalin
respectively, marked the end of the 1917 revolution. War Communism was
forced on the Bolsheviks and it nearly destroyed the prospects for
socialism. As a response to the crisis brought on by War Communism, they
turned to the NEP, another toxic measure. All this took place in the
context of a weakened working-class and international isolation
politically and economically. I suggest if Miller wanted to get a handle
on the decline of the Nicaraguan revolution, he consult Deutcher's
writings on the USSR in the 1920s. That's what helped me understand
Nicaragua, not the sort of shallow stuff that the SWP prints nowadays.
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