Nicaragua postscript

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Fri May 10 09:27:06 MDT 1996


Somebody on the list offered privately to send me a pamphlet containing
the same sort of criticisms of the FSLN that Jim Miller had made. My
private reply appears below. This reply is germane to Jorn Andersen's
recent spate of Sandinista-bashing.

(By the way, the image that keeps coming to mind when I hear these
demotions of the FSLN is a scene in some old movie about the French
foreign legion. Miller or Andersen is an officer and Daniel Ortega stands
before him. The officer says that Ortega has not fulfilled his obligation
as a soldier, perhaps he has fled in panic from a battle. Officer Miller
or Andersen then strips the medals and insignias from the errant Ortega's
uniform and sends him packing.)

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Milt said:

> provoking. As you pointed out in your piece on Nicaragua, there is a
> vacuum of Marxist ideology around the FSLN (OK, you didn't say it but it
> is sort of implied), especially within the FSLN itself, now with four
> factions running against each other in the next elections..

Milt, here is where I part company with you. I find it much more useful to
utilize Marxism to understand society and not political tendencies. What
is a Marxist analysis of the Vietnamese Communist Party? Or the Cuban
Communist Party? What we are looking for is an explanation of *dynamics*.
The dynamics of a revolution, the dynamics of a postcapitalist society. To
get a handle on these sorts of things, I try to concentrate as much as
possible on such factors as: the size of a class, its weight in society,
the international context, the state of the class struggle. Without
putting these things first, you tend to get a preoccupation with either
how close the group in question measures against the Bolsheviks (this is
a really dubious proposition) or to what degree it keeps its promises (as
in Bill Clinton's "I wouldn't lie to you"). A much more dispassionate and
materialist approach is called for.

One thing I have left out of my "debate" with Miller is that I had
constant feedback from Tecnica volunteers about the morale of the people
they worked with, who come from all layers of Nicaragua society. By 1987,
the mood was poor. People were exhausted and cynical. Crime was on the
increase. Nearly half the working-class was unemployed. If you want a good
parallel with another revolution, go read Deutscher on Russia in 1921.
You will be startled by the similarities with Nicaragua. This does not
mean that advanced workers were happy with the FSLN or the Bolsheviks.
There was a Worker's Opposition in Soviet Russia in 1920. The Kronstadt
rebellion incorporated their demands. The problem is not that there
weren't any revolutionaries. Rather it was that society as a whole had
fallen backward. Lenin tried to salvage things as best he could with the
NEP--and was *unsuccessful*....

Lou





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