Hugh Rodwell: Re: No sense of proportion

Hans Ehrbar ehrbar at
Sun May 12 08:21:15 MDT 1996

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Date: Sat, 11 May 1996 23:08:01 +0200
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From: m-14970 at (Hugh Rodwell)
Subject: Re: No sense of proportion
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Louis writes:

>Hugh, you still don't seem to get it. You cite FSLN suppression of
>the Simon Bolivar brigade as if this is some kind of smoking gun. In a
>previous post, you compared this outfit to the POUM in the Spanish Civil

It is.

Compared to the POUM the Simon Bolivar brigade had a better programme but
smaller forces.

>Trotskyists like yourself are trained to sniff out opportunism the way
>bloodhounds are trained to track down prison escapees. What you are not
>trained in is the danger of sectarianism. Your lack of training in this
>area is the only explanation for your putting an obscure sect like
>the Simon Bolivar brigade on the same plane as the FSLN which won the
>loyalty of the Nicaraguan working-class and peasantry, overthrew Somoza
>and fought off US-backed contras for the better part of a decade.

As a political position, the SBB was on a higher plane than the FSLN. As a
revolutionary force it didn't have the same clout. Obviously. Big deal.

If it was such an obscure sect why hound it down and consign its members to
Noriega's jails? To teach them a lesson in proletarian internationalism?

Because of its line of organizing autonomous unions and other organizations
of the popular masses, it actually constituted a *political* threat to the
class-collaborationist line of the Sandinistas and was repressed using
bureaucratic, Stalinist methods.

>With respect to the ideology of the FSLN, Jim Miller at least displayed
>some knowledge of the writings of Carlos Fonseca, while you display none.
>To talk about the class-collaborationist politics of the FSLN in as facile
>a manner as you do without once showing that you are even the least bit
>familiar with its historic program is arrogance incarnate. Miller charges
>them with abandoning this program, while you are obviously ignorant of its
>contents. Fonseca articulated the program of the Sandinistas. To equate
>this program with the typical goals of a popular front is a clear sign
>that you are unfamiliar with Fonseca's ideas. Learn about something before
>you attack it. Is this not too much to ask?

I criticize the actions of the Sandinistas in not taking the opportunity of
a smashed bourgeoisie to set up a workers' state the day after Somoza was
hunted out of Nicaragua.

The American SWP was interested in tailing the Sandinistas and talking them
up as socialist revolutionaries (and they were by no means alone in this),
hence their emphasis on dead-letter rhetoric as a cover for the dynamics of
failure until the defeat of the revolution became an incontrovertible fact.

Any elements of class autonomy in programmatic writings of the Sandinistas
were revealed by their *actions* to be a dead letter. So much holiday
rhetoric. Piss and wind, to put it bluntly. (This doesn't belittle the
heroism of the war of the Nicaraguan people against the gusanos. It gives
it a tragic aspect that was politically unnecessary.)

These actions didn't extend the revolution for one second or one square
inch in Central America. They choked back the revolution and opened the
door to the later accords of Esquipulas and Sapoa (death warrants of the
Nicaraguan and Salvadoran revolutions, instigated in large measure and
signed by Castro).

The whole dynamic of the Sandinista regime was towards popular front
accommodations with the 'patriotic' bourgeoisie. It started with a bang,
wore down the strength and will of the people, and ended with a whimper.

The seeds of defeat were in the Sandinista regime right from the start. The
politics of this development is what you refuse to see. What you do not
see, you cannot learn.

Failure to learn from the defeat of the Sandinistas means that the same
tragic mistakes are going to be repeated time and time again until the
lesson gets learnt -- or until barbarism sets in and the historic
opportunity for socialist revolution offered in our epoch vanishes.



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