Solidarity Leaders endorse CPD anti-Cuba petition

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Thu May 1 23:30:56 MDT 2003


Some thoughts on this.

First the issue of principle. The main thing is to stand against
imperialism. Any statement should start with that. Instead, this statement
starts with:

"We, the undersigned, strongly protest the current wave of repression in
Cuba."

Only later does it get around to vaguely blaming imperialism. Whatever I
think of Cuba, there is no way I would sign a statement with that starting
point.

So why did Dave Finkel sign it? The "Third Camp" in the abstract shouldn't
necessarily lead to this. You can think that Cuba isn't socialist, and
still see fighting imperialism as the main thing. After all, not many of us
thought Saddam's Iraq was socialist, but we realised the main thing was
opposing GW Bush. And there was a time when Dave understood this.

But Shachtmanism, which was my starting point on the far left, has always
had a tendency toward some kind of accommodation to bourgeois liberalism.
They are against imperialism but *equally* condemn Castro. They support the
Palestinians Zionism, but still make statements about the *equal*
self-determination rights  of Israeli Jews.

Perhaps the theoretical problem at the bottom of this is a lack of
"monism". Shachtmanism doesn't seem to see the world as a (dialectically)
unified whole. There are just various unconnected bits with no particularly
hierarchy of importance.  The whole idea that Russia (and now Cuba) wasn't
capitalist, nor was it socialist/post-capitalist, but instead it was
something else -- arbitrarily labelled "bureaucratic collectivism" -- is
just tacking something on to the existing global environment.

 As a consequence, Shachtman and his successors have always had trouble
working out who was the main enemy. First Shachtman thought Russia was more
progressive. Then it was equally bad with capitalism. Then it became
"barbarism". (The version of the theory of state capitalism I subscribe to
avoids this, in my opinion. But to debate that here might be a diversion.)

It is tempting to connect this with the class backgrounds of the people
involved. But I feel we need to be careful here.

First, I actually knew working class Shachtmanites. They had the same
politics.

Second, Trotsky's notion that differences among the left reflect different
class backgrounds is one reason why Trotskyists are always getting bogged
down in factionalism -- they see every difference as part of the class
struggle, and fight it out accordingly.

Third, where do we stop? Personally I think Maoism in the west is a
quintessially petit bourgeois phenomenon. But if I pursued that line of
argument here, Lou would quite rightly pull me into line. A lot of
ideological leftists today are tertiary educated and might be called
"middle class", and we on this list are probably no exception.



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