(Nestor) Re:What is Lüko looking for?

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Sat Sep 27 18:30:19 MDT 2003

Hi Nestor,

The answer to your question below (relating to the "guilt" of the European 
and North American proletariat and their "leaderships" for not coming to 
the aid of the Soviet workers, those of inumerable other revolutions, and 
not overthrowing their own bourgeoisies in an opportune manner) is probably 
yes and no. Perhaps when a definitive history of the capitalist period is 
written, hindsight will allow us to judge ourselves and what we could and 
should have or not have done.

In the meantime, it is senseless to "blame" a working class that currently 
has no conscious sense of its historic interests and mission. The U.S. 
proletariat cannot be said to be a "class for itself." The European 
workers, with a more advanced political culture, still don't possess that 
sense. Blaming "Western" workers, in that case is something like blaming a 
baby for standing by while a mugging takes place. Where we do agree is that 
the caps have been able to use the wealth stolen from the colonized world 
to suffocate consciousness among the"Western" workering class. 
Nevertheless, as David and others like Ernest Mandel (I'm reading something 
of his now, so it sticks in my mind) have pointed out,  European workers 
have risen, and repeatedly, in the era of imperialism, only to be defeated, 

And here is where we might also agree, in that the "leaders" (and as the 
saying goes, "un traidor puede mas que mil valientes...") bear a mighty 
responsibility for these defeats as well as the lack of timely responses to 
world events. We might agree if you would agree to differentiate among that 
amorphous mass you are calling "Marxists" and eschew a certain voluntarism. 
Surely you wouldn't put the Eberts in the same company with the 
Luxembourgs? And even the most astute and integrated (into the class) 
revolutionary leadership can't conjure up an uprising, even in support of 
the first proletarian state, if the proper conditions are lacking.

If your main effort, here, is to try to convince comrades in the 
imperialist countries to look first at the role played by their "own" in 
revolutionary defeats and overthrows, I'm all for that. But, a critical 
balance sheet can't exclude an examination of the role of the bureaucracy 
in the overthrow in the USSR. Nor the role of the bureaucracy in the 
defeats of "Western" revolutions.

Interesting that the same subject came up when I was in Nicaragua in August 
during a conversation with my brother-in-law, who was an officer in the 
Sandinista military intelligence, and who still considers himself a 
Sandinista, although he has become rather bitter. In his view, the defeat 
was the result of Sandinista errors, such as problems with the military 
service, corruption, orientation to sectors of capital, verticalism, poor 
approaches to the campesinos, etc. I argued that these had to be seen in 
the context of the U.S. intervention. The reality is that both sets of 
phenomena conditioned the overthrow of the FSLN government, and a balance 
sheet would have to show not only how Washington played the main role in 
overthrowing the Sandinista revolution, but also how Sandinista 
contradictions actually weakened Solidarity (such as -- in the name of 
diplomatic convenience -- when the FSLN oriented the Mexican solidarity 
movement to stop pressuring the Zedillo government to restore oil shipments 
to Nicaragua). Of course, in the U.S., the role of a conscious worker was 
not to harp on Sandinista deficiencies, but to harp on the U.S. 
government's role.


>But why not comparing with _what their own governments established
>the colonial world over_? Isn't there a great burden of
>responsibility on the leadership here, and a burden of selfishness in
>the class?
>I don't deny that, as you very well state one has to "account for the
>role of the Soviet Union which had unparalleled influence with our
>working classes". But what you don't realize is that I am kicking the
>ball into your own side of the field, because what I am feeling that
>deserves understanding is "the role of the Western proletariat which
>had unparalleled influence with the Soviet Revolution"  and its fate.
>I understand that you can't see internationalism in what follows,
> >
> > NG:I can't honestly understand what does a German Marxist do when, instead
> > of scrutinizing the record of its own Left and working class as regards the
> > Soviet Union, scrutinizes the record of the Soviet bureaucracy and
> > (indirectly) of the Soviet masses who found no way to shrug it off their
> > shoulders.Honestly and comradely, Lüko, I feel that you are failing to your
> > duty. Germany is still, and will be while capitalism exists, the 
> cornerstone
> > of the European building. Your responsibilities are highest.Why, instead of
> > talking to us about the Soviet bureaucrats, you don't talk to us on the
> > Social Democrat bureaucrats in Germany, who have lost in Bayern against 61%
> > vote to the Christian Democrats? Aren't there working class votes in that
> > 61%? What are you able to tell us about the German working class? What 
> about
> > the consequences of unification? What about the Ostalgie?
>I am not parochial. I am considering the revolution as a truly
>international event. Thus I summon those cdes. I value most to take
>up their own tasks, seriously, within this international symphony.
>Revolution is such an international event that we are all still
>waiting for you to be succesful, as well as (I guess) you are waiting
>for us to be succesful at our turn.
>In order to be succesful, however, we must understand our own
>environment to the last millimeter. That is what I try to expose.

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