[Marxism] Spain, "The Militant" and "anti-American demagogy"

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sat Apr 3 13:55:57 MST 2004

This is in response to Steve Gabosch's questions.
I appreciate the chance to attempt to clarify.

by Walter Lippmann, April 3, 2004

It's uncertain if THE MILITANT has a vast readership in
Spain. There are no addresses in Spain in THE MILITANT,
though they have offices in Iceland and New Zealand.

Here in the United States THE MILITANT is read seriously
in the working class and working farm communities, where
THE MILITANT has twenty-three addresses in its directory,
I'm confident that it is studied carefully and that its
teachings are being assimilated assiduously. 

THE MILITANT, a newspaper embedded in the heartland of 
the United States of America, waxes indignant against a
troubling virus which must be both exposed and defeated:
"anti-American demagogy". This has been recently utilized
by the Socialist Workers Party (of Spain) in an attempt
to expand the influence of Spanish imperialism, evidently
with a little bit of luck, having elected a new president
replacing the regime of Jose Maria Aznar using this very
noxious method. 

They're really bent out of shape over this:
The PSOE used anti-American demagogy before the elections
to mobilize support for the Spanish imperialist government. 

In a highly publicized incident during last October's 
Columbus Day military parade, for example, Zapatero sat 
down as the American flag passed by. "It's not my flag,"
he reportedly said later. Read every precious word:

"Anti-American demagogy" is an ominous evil that must be
pitilessly fought by the Socialist Workers Party of the 
United States of America. North Americans from the United
States of America have special responsibilities in this
urgent battle, appearing as it does on the front-page of
the newspaper this, so you know it must be high priority.

God only knows who ELSE might also voice such sentiments?
Why down there in Latin America, all sorts of people have 
been raising heck with such anti-American slogans as:


Will horrors never cease? Something must really be done!
Perhaps THE MILITANT will strive to re-educate everyone 
against the pernicious role of "anti-American demagogy"? 
What about all of those angry Iraqis, now demonstrating
for an end to US occupation? They better not utilize 
any "anti-American demagogy" or they'll face the wrath 
of THE MILITANT's editorial staff.

Perhaps THE MILITANT will utilize some of the "civic
space" permitted by the US occupation regime to warn 
Iraqis against the evils of "anti-American demagogy"?
THE MILITANT's sales teams at Iraqi demonstrations,
garment shops and meat-packing plants will certainly
prepare inspiring reports. We look forward to them.

THE MILITANT also hasn't as yet taken stock of the
very enthusiastic take on the recent victory by the
Socialist Workers Party (of Spain) expressed by the
Commander in Chief of Cuba. He liked the results.

Fidel Castro, of course, might be totally wrong, but 
neither THE MILITANT nor its supporters here have,
far, even considered the Cuban leader's opinion, 
nor even given his view even a cursory once-over. 

Fidel looked at the Spanish vote and instead of doom,
gloom, or, as Steve quotes THE MILITANT "Zapatero has 
not promised to withdraw all Spanish troops from Iraq. 
He has said the goal is to keep them there", Fidel saw 
the Spanish public's repudiation of Aznar favorably.
He wrote an open letter addressing Zapatero thus:

"I congratulate you on your decision to withdraw the
Spanish troops from Iraq by June 30." And then said:
"The peoples of Latin America thus have the right to
expect the immediate return of those young people.
They do not have a duty to wait until June 30."

Fidel Castro, a man of some political experience and
skill, decided to identify himself together WITH the
mass anti-war sentiments of the Spanish public and
didn't seem to fret excessively over any hostility
toward Washington which might have been expressed
thereby. (Cuba, after all, has a few issues of its
own with the United States of America, which still
occupies a small but important part of Cuban soil.) 

Cuba had particularly strong issues with the Aznar
administration, which participated in the US-led
destabilization campaign inside the island. Fidel
personally led demonstrations against the regimes 
of Aznar and Burlesconi last June 12, in part due
to their having joined claws with the US against
Cuba: http://www.walterlippmann.com/50years.html  

It's true, of course, that the Spanish state is at
once capitalist and imperialist. But from a Cuban
perspective, a falling out among the countries
which are capitalist, and which have come together
against Cuba is a "good thing", not a "bad thing", 
as THE MILITANT stubbornly insists. 

As is well known, division in the face of the enemy
is never an intelligent strategy. But division in 
the CAMP of the enemy is always a good thing, above
all for a small and blockaded country such as Cuba.

None of what's been written or asked has any relation
to the fact that the Socialist Workers Party of the
United States of America stood aside from, didn't 
post announcements of, and sneered at and downplayed 
the March 20th world-wide protests against a concrete 
war which is actually going on. (Pathfinder did have 
tables at a few of the many anti-war demonstrations.)

After all the Spanish people voted Aznar out because
they saw a link between the March 11th terrorist 
attack and the Aznar government's anti-popular front
together with Bush and Blair. They didn't see things
in quite the same distressed way THE MILITANT did.

THE MILITANT'S disparaging report on March 20th:
My assessment of March 20th was more enthusiastic:
In far-away Cuba, they REALLY loved March 20th:

Defending unpopular political positions isn't easy, as 
those who step up to the plate to defend Cuba's views 
and actions against the onslaught in the dominant 
US corporate capitalist media, have long known. They
are the public's main disinformation source on Cuba.
But the leftish media brings up the rear guard here.

Cuba's views have been subjected to relentless onslaught 
by self-designated Marxists of various stripes using a 
stale leftish form of combat in the rhetorical zone. 
Some do this more openly, such as the Spartacists and
others who continue to call themselves Trotskyist. 
Others, who advertise themselves as friends of Cuba,
are more circuitous or guarded in their formulations. 
THE MILITANT is an example of this latter variety.

That is why, it seems to me quite clear, THE MILITANT
isn't interested in Fidel Castro's rather enthusiastic
take on the Spanish election since it doesn't fit with
the SWP's downbeat assessment of the event. THE MILITANT
omitted mention of the Cuban opinion that the rescue of
Elian Gonzalez was a victory, and not a violation of the
"democratic rights of the working class" as THE MILITANT
described it. They sneer at the anti-globalization and
ecological struggle similarly, never mentioning Cuba's
strong support for these movements and their leaders.

THE MILITANT didn't think Fidel was revolutionary 
enough to meet their stringent criteria. They called 
the revolutionary Cuban government "petty bourgeois" 
for over a year after the Revolutionary triumph:

I know, omitting information which doesn't confirm our 
pre-conceptions is a normal human phenomenon, one which 
operates in politics as well as psychology, and which 
is known as "denial". When driving on a crowded highway
denial is a necessary and appropriate self-protection
took or we'd never get to our destination. I practice
denial when I drive my automobile. But it has limits.

Denial's value comes to an end once we reach where we
are going. In politics, however, denial is rather less 
suitable for addressing the struggle's challenges. 
Facts are stubborn things, whether looked at, or not.

Spain is a good distance from New York City, but as of
tomorrow, Sunday, it will have been a MONTH since the
memorial meeting for Jon Hillson, which had also been
announced TWO MONTHS AGO. The Socialist Workers Party
Political Committee had a speaker, Pathfinder had a
table, and many members and supporters of the SWP 
were present. THE MILITANT hasn't yet seen fit even
to publish an announcement of, not to speak of a 
report from the Jon Hillson memorial meeting. So far, 
that can only be found at my website focused on him:

Walter Lippmann

More information about the Marxism mailing list