[Marxism] Chavez and ultra-left

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sun Apr 25 14:30:15 MDT 2004

There's no reason to criticize help Marxist.com or any 
other group which calls itself Trotskyist may give to
Venezuela, or anyone else who needs the help. Help is
good, and such help redounds to the credit of those
who give the help. In the Cuban media, for example a
favorable portrait of the recently-published Pathfinder
book ALDABONAZO! was given, as were other favorable 
stories about others who were with the Pathinder group
which participated in the Havana Book Fair recently.
And they do this even though they know perfectly well
that Pathfinder and THE MILITANT reject Cuba's views
on most of the major questions in world politics now.

There was a great story about Nicaraguan journalist
and SWP member Roger Calero in Juventud Rebelde during
the final day of the fair, which you can look at here:

Many Trotskyist groups write lots of great analysis and
from what I've seen Marxist.com writes some of the best.
I got my first leftist political education in such an
environment, in the Socialist Workers Party,USA. Such
training teaches one to ask those questions which aren't 
normally asked in other schools of political education.

Yet it remains true that groups which define themselves
as Trotskyist retain a heavy baggage which is difficult
to slough off, even with the best of intentions. The
problem is at the core of their very reason for being,
though we don't have time to get into that at this time.

Just look at what Marxist.com wrote about Cuba recently. 
They actually characterize the arrest, trials and the
jailings of Washington's paid agents as "repression".
They don't widely publicize their political revolution 
program for Cuba, but they DO favor the overthrow of the 
Cuban government. That IS, after all, what the slogan of
"political revolution" means. In general, this is the 
Trotskyist approach to Cuba, with a some exceptions.  

a class point of view 
by Alan Woods and Roberto Sarti

Genuine socialism cannot exist without the granting of
basic democratic rights, such as freedom of expression. 
Marxists have never maintained that the one party 
monolithic system is a pillar of socialism. In Cuba it 
would be entirely possible to grant the freedom to 
organise to any group or party that accepted the 
nationalization of the means of production. All such 
tendencies should be allowed. This would not weaken 
but strengthen the revolution.

The counter-revolutionary forces in Cuba can be defeated.
But this would demand the real involvement of the workers
in the running of the economy and of the state. It would
mean the introduction of genuine workers' democracy along
the lines of what existed in the Soviet Union in the first
few years after the 1917 revolution. It would involve the 
deepening of the social conquests of the revolution, with 
the elimination of privileges and bureaucracy.

and the year before they wrote:

Who are the true friends of the Cuban revolution?

We think that the Cuban leaders, with Castro at the head,
are mistaken when they seek the saving of the destiny of
the Cuban revolution by trusting in reaching diplomatic 
agreements with some capitalist governments, by taking 
advantage of possible frictions that these may have with 
American imperialism, or creating illusions in the work 
of characters like Jimmy Carter (former president of the 
United States) or the Pope, professed agents of capitalism 
and its interests. These "friends" will not hesitate for 
an instant to help the counter-revolution in Cuba to 
reinstate capitalism there when the conditions demand it.
If the Cuban leaders acted like true communists they would
make a call to the working class, to the youth and to the
rank and file of the communist and socialist parties and 
organisations of the world to organise themselves within 
these organisations around the ideas of revolutionary 
Marxism. At the same time, an energetic call would be made
to promote a new international Marxist organisation which 
would find a powerful echo everywhere, and the position of 
Cuba would be strengthened, as would the forces of 
revolutionary Marxism on an international level. 
In this way the task of the socialist revolution would 
advance tremendously in every corner of the planet.

and a few years before that, they wrote:

Marxists fight to defend Cuba, but at the same time we
fight for a political revolution which would allow the
workers to take control of the state and struggle for a
world revolution. This is the only way to really defend 
the Cuban revolution. The collapse of Stalinism in 
Eastern Europe and the steps towards capitalism in 
Russia are a warning of the catastrophe that would 
occurr for Cuban workers and youth after any attempt 
to restore capitalism 

The political revolution idea, including as here the
FIGHT for a political revolution [as you can see, this
is not just an abstract concept, they're FIGHTING for
this political revolution] just is left out of the 
more recent documents of the group, but it is there 
if you look for it carefully. 


Not all Trotskyist groupings call for political revolution in
Cuba as does Marxism.com. Socialist Viewpoint, whose best-known 
leader is Nat Weinstein, does NOT favor political revolution 
in Cuba. But they still feel compelled to try to fit the round
Cuban peg into the Trotskyist square hole. Nat Weinstein writes:

"There have been cases where would-be revolutionaries can
evolve in the course of the struggle itself into revolution-
ists that learn from their mistakes and begin to make decisions 
that lead to successful socialist revolution. And there's no
reason why their evolution into fully developed revolutionary 
Marxists working toward the goal of world socialist revolution 
should be excluded. We think that the current Cuban leadership
fits into this category." 

[Here was something curious: Weinstein's reference to what he
calls the "current" Cuban leadership begs the question as to
whether he has some "other" Cuban leadership in mind to which
he's contrasting the "current" one, the one which organized
and led the "current Revolution", still going on, in Cuba.] 

There's much of additional interest in Weinstein's comments.
We don't have time to delve into those here, so I suggest 
everyone study them for themselves, including his comments 
on other items missing in the Cuban approach to politics:

Walter Lippmann


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