[Marxism] Re: Something revealed by the debate over Canada

dwalters at marxists.org dwalters at marxists.org
Tue Aug 16 20:33:00 MDT 2005

Fred, I think, to cut to the chase, is that Walter’s perspective seems here more
akin to the historical position of the Communist Party (choose your country,
save Cuba) in how they view solidarity work or look at particular class
struggles. I don’t know if Walter is even aware of this, he may, probably did,
arrive independently of it. In the case of the CPs, it was political
subordination of an independent line with regards to the class struggle in any
particular country to the “line of” the USSR.

I (and others) see Walter as slipping into this. It was clear early on with the
discussion of Brazil when this was noted directly and he replied that maybe
workers in Brazil “should” base their view of the PT gov’t on the international
position of Brazil vis-à-vis Cuba and Venezuela. You, Fred, were open to this
idea as you defended Walter on this. I think this is spin-off from the Fidel
love fest of the SWP in the early 80s when it had to show it was most Fidelista
of anyone in the world. I think this has a lingering effect on those of us who
came out of the SWP, at least those that came out of the SWP *much* later...

I don’t think Walter has necessarily “subordinated” his views to everything the
Cubans say. “Walter’s method” is simply to defend not just the actions of every
country (that we have discussed) that develops a positive relationship with any
other progressive country or one experiencing a socialist leadership, such a
Venezuela and Brazil. It was his statement that workers ought to defend the
Lula Gov’t regardless of that gov’ts attitude toward it’s own working class.
Everyone who wrote on this with the exception of yourself, blasted, mostly in
serious but comradely way, Walter’s perspective. Then it got hot and we had to
stop the debate on the specifics.

Who else had this sort of perspective? CISPES did. CISPES defined its politics
by the political positions of the FMLN, then the FDR. I was at the Bay Area
wide meeting of CISPES in 1984 when Ruben Zamora laid down the line and pushed
CISPES to work for Jesse Jackson in the Democratic Primary that year. Needless
to say this caused a stir, but that’s exactly what CISPES activists did. He was
WRONG on every level, but if you questioned him, in a kind and comradely manner,
which many tried to do (and Zamora, to his credit was more than willing to
discuss it) the CISPES folks would shut the discussion down, after all, who
were we to question the representative of the FDR? This is the kind of
'repression' I get from Walter, it's not the other way around.

I think that Walter’s “method” in very real way reflects this when he writes
about the class struggles in other countries. Does this emanate from Cuban CP?
I don’t think so. I think Walter is looking around and sees that the countries
in question are under serious attack, even being threatened militarily by the
US. That any allies Venezuela or Cuba can garner, even at the level of
diplomacy, and especially at the level of trade, are good things. And I agree
with Walter on this. But that this is the political axis from which solidarity
flows (or our analysis of those gov't is made), something I strongly infer from
all of Walters’s comments on this, is something that I do object to very
strongly, as do others. And, that this some how is something that trumps the
class struggle on the local level is something I’ve had to fight against in
various solidarity movements for more than 2 decades.

I don’t want to ‘suppress’ this line, in fact, just the opposite, I want to
discuss it as it’s often endemic among activists engaged in Latin American
solidarity and his been since the 1979 overthrow of the Samoza regime in
Nicaragua (it as far more evident in El Salvador solidarity work than
Nicaraguan, however).

My comments on Canada were a general statement on how to approach
solidarity “in light of Walter’s method” and others who may have this
perspective. If, for example, Cuba and/or Venezuela have a good relationship
with a particular ruler who is then overthrown by the masses of the people
(such as in Ecuador just recently) do we ONLY define our perspective of the
very positive relationship Lula and Chavez had with the former president there
or do we look, primarily, at the state of the class struggle, the condition of
the working class, and why that President was almost lynched by the unions and
workers there?

I choose the latter method. So far, on Marxmail, Walter has only expressed
sympathy for the former. If I’m wrong about this, I withdraw my remarks. But I
don’t think I’m wrong. I want Walter to look beyond the important diplomatic
and trade issues and look at the class struggle, on the ground, too. That,
Fred, is the issue over “Walter’s Method”. It reflects itself, too, in yours
also, because of your confidence in, for example, the Chavez gov’t. I, too, am
optimistic, and confident, but I’m not about to close my eyes to exactly what’s
going in the class struggle there, all the nuances, the big and small questions
(and the debates at *every* level that flows from them), and knowing that, IMO,
Chavez has, in the past, made some serious errors (something we can discuss
under a different thread). I believe the Marxist method means discussing
everything and not restricting one's debates to the political correctness of
the some in the solidarity movement.

As for the Shining Light of Cuban foreign policy: First, anyone who ignores it
is an idiot. It’s very important how Cuban defines its role regionally and
internationally, perhaps more so now that the “World Communist Movement”, of
which it was an integral, but unique, part, is no longer around. Overall it’s
positive and, while I don’t go by the “enemy of my enemy” method often, clearly
the Cubans are doing something right as they never fail to piss the US
imperialists off.

Having said that, we could, should, start a separate thread on this as I don’t
believe the Cubans light is always shining. It’s a different subject, related
for sure, but deserving of something different.

But you are talking about method. I think it’s important to look at what the
Cubans are doing, but not assume or have them define our line in THIS country.
We can only do that. How we build solidarity with, say, Venezuela and Cuba, is
up to us and cannot be defined by people in another country (discussed? YES!!)
Only American activists can really define the perspectives and should never
take their lead from others. We can look to see what they say, be should decide
on what is to be done. (it is, parenthetically, a problem with the “Palestinian
issue” in the anti-war movement as it strongly appears to me that groups like
PSL and WWP take their lead from Palestinians in exile rather than the needs of
the US working class and how to fight imperialism in the belly of the beast).

David Walters

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