[Marxism] ISO's position on Cuba

Billy Thekid bill_linville2222 at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 16 12:32:08 MDT 2004

Walter writes:

<Does the ISO favor the overthrow of the Cuban government?

<In the following excerpt (full link provided below) one
can see that the ISO does favor the overthrow of Cuba's
<government. They say they favor the Cuban government's
overthrow ("by the workers", of course), but they really
<DO favor its overthrow. Keep in mind that this is the
government which came into power through the revolution.

As a sidelight, the ISO, which says it's not in business
<of advising what it refers to as "the Castro regime" how
better to rule, nevertheless complains about how Cuba's
government chooses tactics in opposing US intervention
<inside the island. As others on the left did, the ISO,
writing from the safety of its Chicago headquarters, 
<sharply criticized Cuba's government for arresting the
recipients of and collaborators with Washington latest
destabilization efforts inside the island.

<When citing the ISO's position, the link was provided so 
interested readers could study the full viewpoint of the
<group for themselves. Pointing to a decisive section is
not "selective quoting". Without reposting the entire 
<ISO position, citing salient quotes isn't "selective" 
since it doesn't mis-represent the ISO position. Ones
<views toward Cuba continues to be, as Joseph Hansen 
put it in 1961, "the acid test", in my opinion.

"We believe that it is up to the Cuban working class to
<wrestle power away from the bureaucratic ruling class that
runs its country. But this is a fight that is doubly
<stacked against it because it not only needs to fight
against its local rulers but it also needs to guard its
<back against any attempts by Uncle Sam to dig in its dirty
paws. Cuba's workers will need our support when they move
<to challenge their rulers, and also when the U.S. threatens
to use whatever means to regain control over them. If Cuban
<workers are to stand up to their regime and to imperialism,
we need to build an anti-imperialist movement in the U.S.
<for them to ally with-one that takes a stand against U.S.
designs on Cuba without identifying with the Cuban regime."


Given this "third camp" perspective, a certain lack of
<interest in, and of enthusiasm for the defense of Cuba 
flows logically and reasonably. After all, it's little
<more than another dictatorial third world regime, though
one worth criticizing more extensively than others. This
<may be why the ISO wants its audience to be certain that 
the ISO in NO way "identifies" with Cuba's "regime".

<Walter Lippmann

I agree with Fred Feldman's post when he said he has no desire to start a big
debate about the ISO's position on Cuba.  
Walter, your original post said that the ISO is against ending the blockade, which is a fanatical distortion, prompting me to clarify our position.  It is selective quoting from an article when quotes are used in order to prove that a position is held that is effectively argued against at length in another part of the same article.
And yes, we do think that Cuba is not a socialist state, but a state and an ecomomy that is subject to the market forces of international capitalism (state capitalism).  (see another ISR article for a more detailed explanation of our position: http://www.isreview.org/issues/11/cuba_crisis.shtml)  These market forces dictate priorities that are not in the interest of workers, women, Blacks, gays and lesbians, etc.  My view is that a socialist state and a socialist revolution are initiated by and consist of workers' councils and active participation through democratic bodies by the vast majority of the working class in its own interests.  Meaning mechanisms of working class power, rooted in the workplace make political and economic decisions, not enlightened bureaucrats, no matter how well-meaning.  That is what I spend my life fighting for, and I believe this is possible.  That is what I understand socialism to be.  I don't think this describes either the Cuban revolution or the Cuban
 state at any point and I think saying socialism can be built from above does the socialist movement a huge disservice.  Workers in Poland's Solidarnosc largely rejected Marx and Lenin because it was the "official ideology" of the Stalinist ruling class.  Had genuine Marxism been on the table for these workers, a different outcome could have been possible in the revolutionary situation of 80-81. Our point is this: If gays and lesbians struggle against discriminatory laws in Cuba (I don't think this is a tactic against U.S. intervention), or workers protest austerity cuts due to the financial crisis caused by the international markets, let's not let the only oppositional force and ideology within Cuba be right-wing and have the only outlet for people who are disaffected be the Miami community, which would actually play more into the U.S.'s hands.  We are for building an independent left-wing force within Cuba that both defends Castro against right-wing attacks and U.S. imperialism and
 proposes independent agitation, forming genuine unions that protect the working class and is for allowing people to leave the country as they wish, etc.
That is our position, but it does not dovetail with U.S. imperialism, like you seem to think, just as criticisms of the Soviet Union did not put one on the U.S. side of the cold war.  We defend Cuba unconditionally against the blockade and the U.S. military.  To say we are "disinterested" in defending Cuba against the U.S. is again a horrible mischaracterization and willfully ignores the nuances and complexities of our argument.  And then to imply that we side with right-wingers who get U.S. support and that we would support a right-wing coup of Castro is also a major distortion.  Please avoid this in the future.  My comments are meant only to correct these mischaracterizations and further clarify the ISO's position on Cuba, not to open up a polemic :).  
Bill Linville (Madison, WI ISO)

Do you Yahoo!?
New and Improved Yahoo! Mail - 100MB free storage!

More information about the Marxism mailing list