[Marxism] stalinism, cuba, gorbachev

stansmith44 stansmith44 at ameritech.net
Sat Jul 10 15:02:01 MDT 2004


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[Marxism] Cuba. Gorbachev. Stalinism


  a.. To: marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu 
  b.. Subject: [Marxism] Cuba. Gorbachev. Stalinism? 
  c.. From: "Hal Smith" <rakovsky at excite.com> 
  d.. Date: Sat, 10 Jul 2004 06:56:40 -0400 (EDT) 
  e.. Reply-To: rakovsky at excite.com, Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu> 
  f.. Sender: marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu 


   Trotskyists often throw around the term "stalinist" like the term "petty bourgeois". It seems to fit everyone, and has become a term of abuse, sort of like a political version of the word "asshole." Besides that, "stalinist" becomes such a generic word that it loses its meaning. The policies of Kim Jong Il, Joseph Stalin, Ho Chi Minh, Chiang Ching, the present rulers of China, Gorbachev, Pol Pot are all called stalinist. And what useful generalizations about policies and strategies can we gain from that. Such a generic term is rather useless scientifically.    In addition, the defining feature of what Trotkskyists called stalinism is not lack of democracy. It is the abandonment of world revolutionary struggle for an accomodation with imperialism that benefits one's own immediate interests.   Cuba obviously has never abandoned the world revolutionary struggle,something that even a nit-wit like George Bush understands better than the ISO, while Gorbachev basically sold out everything to imperialism, if not simply giving it all away. What could be more opposite?Stan Smith  A Soviet advisor to Cuba, temporarily teaching in Canada, believes that Gorbachev's USSR had a higher level of self- government than Cuba at the time he was there in the late 1970's-early 1980's because he believed there was more free speech, more room for vacation, freedom for expression, freedom of behavior, assembly, and religion in Gorbachev's USSR. At that time, a large amount of "religious stuff" appeared and spread. Sometimes there were maybe 7 candidates running against each other at the municipal, city, and province levels. There were 2 candidate elections at the councilor "soviet" levels. There were referendums. There were all kinds of private institutes, yoga, and karate appeared. Before, you needed the director's permission for Xerox copying. You could have a typewriter without having to registrate it first. You became allowed to choose all the elected positions. The subordinates chose the directors of departments, in all spheres- factories, textiles, education, everything. And then the directors became soft. It happened anarchically, but all of this ended with Yeltsin. "Everything they told me about capitalism was true." From: personal interview. I take this to mean that we should look at the Soviet Union in more flexible ways. If we are going to say that Cuba is non Stalinist because of an amount of local direct self-government and also elections at the national level, then we should not strictly define all the trends of the Soviet goverment as Stalinist. Specifically, I believe that Gorbachev and Khrushchev represented a democratic trend within the Communist Party, which can be felt within many Communist movements. There are similar splits between the Swedish Communists and a smaller more undemocratic group that had ties to Stalin's legacy within their movement. Similarly Khrushchev had to fight against Molotov and Malenkov, who wanted to remove him for denouncing Stalin. And I hear Castro in his own time had to struggle with a pro-Stalin faction of his own party. Because of the evidence above, if we are going to define Cuba as non-Stalinist, then I don't think we should define Khrushchev or Gorbachev's trends that way either. In fact, they struggled against the main tendencies we define clearly as Stalinism- bureaucracy, careerism, political repression, one man dictatorship, and the cult of personality- even though elements from Stalin's time remained. North Korea, then, which disagreed with Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin, would be a closer example of a Stalinist nation.  

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