Now, questions for Miller

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at
Sun May 5 12:03:49 MDT 1996

Miller and I have no disagreement on the FSLN abandoning the
pursuit of socialism in the late 1980s. I attribute this to external
pressures that led to a Thermidor-like process inside Nicaragua. His
group, on the other hand, thought that the prospects for socialism were
much more more favorable in those years than they were for Cuba in 1959.

What he harps on is the failings of the FSLN, their inability to stay the
course. There are no leaders of the FSLN who escape this
condemnation, including Tomas Borge who, when in Somoza's
prisons, was tortured repeatedly in order to force him to reveal
membership information. He never turned over any names. This is the
same Borge who was beaten in the testicles so often by Somoza's goons
that he became biologically, although not spiritually, less than a man.
Miller likens this Tomas Borge and other Sandinista leaders to scabs
who crossed a picket line to collaborate with the boss.

Miller invites people who are interested in finding where he gets his
views from to check out the Militant newspaper. I would concur. I invite
people who are comfortable with his views to not only check out the
Militant but to go ahead and join the SWP. The SWP would be
performing a very valuabable service to the Left by siphoning off such

I have tried to answer all of Miller's criticisms of the FSLN and if I
have neglected any, I would be happy to accomodate him since he is
it is so much fund to shoot fish in a barrel. (Metaphorically
speaking!). I would only ask him to get back to me on a number of questions
that remain open in the course of the debates I have had with him. Here goes:

1) Democracy in the SWP:
I stated that the SWP is a bureaucratic organization. My proof of that
was it expelled people who defended Trotsky's Permanent Revolution
theory, many of whom were old-timers who had put in more than 40
years building the group. He said that they broke discipline. SWP
conventions had ratified the rejection of the Permanent Revolution
theory. When I pointed out to him that the national secretary of the
group had opened up a public attack on the theory a year in advance of
any convention, he had nothing to say. I now demand a response. Is
this consistent with "Leninist" norms?

2) Buchanan as fascist:
I defended the idea that Buchanan was not a fascist, but an
ultrarightist. Miller assured the list that Buchanan absolutely was a
fascist. Then, all of sudden, his party changed its line and Buchanan
became an ultrarightist rather than a fascist. What I want to know
>from Miller is, first of all, was there ever an explanation of why the
SWP changed its line. I would like to read this. Then, I want to know
what Miller's current views are. Did he change his mind when his
party changed its line? Or does he think he is operating under the
principles of "democratic centralism" and remaining mum until he has
a chance to persuade the SWP of the folly of its ways at the next
convention. If that is his view, I would like to remind him that this not
the way the Bolsheviks operated.

3) "Tested Communist leadership" and the NEP:
I want Miller to tell me whether he thinks Larry Seigle was correct in
stating that the NEP would not jeopardize the socialist project in the
USSR because there was a "tested Communist leadership". This is a
rather novel interpretation of the situation in the USSR at the time
the NEP was proposed. I have, of course, not read everything about the period
but I base my ideas on things I've read in Isaac Deutscher, E.H. Carr
and Moshe Lewin. I also have to take Lenin's own "Testament" into
account where he puts forward the need to combat bureaucracy at
every level which has reached emergency proportions. This includes the
Communist Party leadership itself. Maybe the SWP has found more useful
treatments of the period. Or, perhaps, they just enjoy uttering
banalities like "tested Communist leadership".

4) The SWP and its siblings:
How does a small propaganda group become a sibling to a party which
has won a revolution? On the basis of ideas rather than deeds? When
the SWP puts forward the notion of a world-wide communist current
that includes itself, the tiny groups in its orbit that take consignments
of Pathfinder literature, and the FSLN, isn't it practicing a form of
self-aggrandizement that borders on mental illness?

Louis Proyect

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