[Marxism] GreenLeft review of Woods' Venezuela book

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sun Aug 21 12:49:59 MDT 2005

Some Trotskyists, such as Alan Woods and his tendency tend to counterpose
Venezuela, which they like, with Cuba, of which they're highly critical. Grant
and Woods, like most Trotskyists, favor the overthrow of the government
of Cuba (by the "workers", of course). They use the term political revolution
to describe this overthrow, which suggests they view the Cuban government
as analagous to that of the Stalinist government of the former Soviet Union.

(Today, on those occasions when they do look at Cuba, the Grant group uses
a softer, more nuanced language to describe Cuba and their prescription for
a resolution of Cuba's contratictions.) You can find a collection of links to the
views of the Grant group and many other Trotskyist formations here:

Woods and his tendency have done a good deal of energetic work in favor
of Venezuela, in the UK and in the US. This is all to their credit. And they
also have worked to publicize some of the writings of Cuban author Celia
Hart, also to their credit.

Yet they rarely write about Cuba, and when they do, it's very, very, very
critical. As has been pointed out more than once, their tendency has taken
a position calling for the overthrow of the Cuban government, which is the
closest on in the world allied to the Chavez government of Venezuela. The
Grant tendency never looks at ALBA, the first step of the international
strategic alliance inaugurated last year between Cuba and Venezuela.

Here's a sample of Grant group analysis of Cuba, written in 2003:

Only the democratic control and administration of the masses can root
out the counter-revolution and the bureaucracy that is the soil on
which the counter-revolution can grow. Let us not forget that it was
the regime of bureaucratic mismanagement and corruption that led the
USSR to collapse and capitalist counter-revolution in 1991. Let our
slogan be "Back to Lenin!"
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.

This link no longer works, but the document can be read:

It is impossible to construct socialism in an isolated country. If by
socialism we understand the existence of a society where the
development of the productive forces, social welfare and culture
would be superior to that of the most developed capitalist country
that exists today, then we must admit that in Cuba socialism still
does not exist - and neither did it exist in the former USSR - but it
is a regime in transition to socialism. On the other hand, authentic
workers' democracy implies that the elements of coercion and
repression, far from growing stronger, should wither away and finally
disappear. Socialism is incompatible with the absence of basic
democratic rights, such as freedom of expression, the existence of
whatever organisations defend the conquests of the revolution and the
freedom to publicly participate in all aspects of social life. And we
have to admit that all these elements of workers' democracy are still
not present in Cuba.

Not long 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 worldrevolution. 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 Grant group favors Venezuela, where a multi-party system is
operating, over Cuba where one isn't. Perhaps there is a connnection
between these two facts. I do not have a certain opinion about that.

Other groups such as Socialist Action counterpose Venezuela to Cuba,
but they say they favor Cuba and call Chavez a bonapartist. It's hard
to keep track of the positions of the various Trotskyist groups toward
Cuba and Venezuela. That's why I collected as many links as possible
on that page http://www.walterlippmann.com/tacr.html 

The US Socialist Workers Party as well as the Spartacists also call
Chavez a Bonapartist.

Walter Lippmann

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