[Marxism] Re: Is the Bolivarian revolution a Marxist revolution ora dead-end tactic? (reformatted)
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Mon Aug 29 14:24:43 MDT 2005
I repeated several paragraphs in my first posting of this piece so I
have corrected that and a very few other things. Fred Feldman
"In Nicaragua, the mixed economy meant a united front against
imperialism." Mike Friedman
What are you basing this off of? Have you read the history of how the
"progressive" Nicaraguan bourgeoisie dismantled the private sector of
the economy there all throughout the 1980's to stab the revolution in
the back and destroy the economy? In fact, and I'm not asking this
rhetorically, I would be interested to hear of examples (and evidence to
back them up) of the "national bourgeoisie" supporting revolutionary
processes in any of the important movements in Latin America in the past
50 years. It's easy to blame any and all reaction in Latin America on
the hand of U.S. imperialism but the indigenous social structures of
these countries need to be taken seriously - imperialism certainly has a
real base among sections of all Latin American societies which gives it
its ability to rule.
1. "Mixed economy" First of all, let me express once again my distaste
for mixed economy as a description of a specific type of economy that
countries choose to have, rather than economies that are purely this and
I don't know about the rest of the animal world, but mixed economy today
is simply the human condition.It is not a great idea developed by
technocrats or critics of communism or capitalism for solving economic
problems. Nicaragua was and IS a mixed economy -- and will probably be
one for as long as there is a Nicaragua as a distinct nation.
Mixed economy is necessary. Mixed economy is inevitable. Mixed economy
will be with us for a long time to come. And mixed economy is not a
plan, despite frequent pretenses, but a constant battleground of class
struggle, and also of struggle within classes.
Of mixed economy, it can truly be said, as Margaret Thatcher said of
capitalism and neoliberalism as an expression of capitalism, "There Is
Those who claim to have an alternative to mixed economy today -- the
supposedly absolutely nationalized, absolutely planned economy (Pol Pot
being a prime exemplar)end up with a bandit army that makes its living
by smuggling diamonds and currency across the Thai border and rifling
the pockets of those they torture and kill.
The United States is a mixed economy. There is no simon-pure capitalist
free-market economy anywhere in the world today. In the United States,
the shift in recent decades has been heavily in favor of the ruling
imperialists and their accumulation, and to the disadvantage of all the
other classes, including the broadest strata of the middle classes but
above all the working class of all groups.
Cuba, Vietnam, and China are mixed economies on a foundation transformed
by an anticapitalist revolution. In my opinion, there are ways in which
the capitalist and petty bourgeois forces have been strengthened in all
these countries. But in none of them has the anticapitalist revolution
been reversed, and in Cuba the struggle is led in a way that I believe
has strengthened the working-class and peasant alliance in its
leadership of society.
In Vietnam, the situation is mixed, but the masses remain quite strong
and have proven their combativity often. In China, the main obstacle is
not the orientation of the state bureaucracy but the power and weight of
the working class and peasant forces, which have not been defeated, have
not been crushed, and are being expanded and potentially strengthened by
the expansion of the economy. Decisive defeat of the revolution by the
new capitalist forces in alliance for imperialism would mean not only
the defeat of the anticapitalist revolution, but of the national
revolution. The rise of China in the world today, is partly because it
is not capitalist and partly a product of the decline of imperialism.
Ecuador is a mixed economy, with a ruling class divided by its weak and
dependent nature and also by a number of years now of chronic and sharp
but inconclusive class struggle. I believe recent events have resulted
in shifting the mix slightly in favor of the working class, the
oppressed, and Ecuador as an oppressed nation. An important element was
the intervention, no doubt with Venezuela's interests in mind, of Hugo
Chavez to provide a section of the Ecuadoran bourgeoisie with a way out
-- support in the form of oil shipments and loans -- of the
confrontation that their increasingly demanding commanders in Washington
and the US corporations were demanding. The result was a slight and
very unstable shift in Ecuador -- which uses the US dollar as its
currency and has US troops on its soil -- towards concessions to the
workers and peasants and towards Venezuela and Cuba in Latin America.
This is why Chavez's "strikebreaking" and "scabbing" have not come under
any popular denunciation in Ecuador (so little that I can only assume
that there is no Trotskyist group in the country with the obligation to
differentiate itself as the alternative to all and sundry Misleaders).
In Venezuela, where there are people with sectarian axes to grind, the
issue seems slightly more controversial, as some try to sell variants of
the "scab" view by applying simon-pure trade union standards (the very
use of terms like "scab" and "strike-breaker" and the insistence on a
boycott of Ecuador apparently advocated by nobody in the actual fight
reflects this) to the broader political and social struggle that was
actually taking place.
2. So what went wrong in Nicaragua?
What went wrong in Nicaragua was that the revolution could not extend.
On the contrary, it contracted. Argentina was defeated by Britain and
the United States in the Malvinas. Grenada's leadership was smashed by
the Coard coup and the country was occupied by US troops. The Salvadoran
guerrilla forces were stymied and began to lose momentum. Panama was
occupied with a brave but not very effective resistance. In Africa,
the French imperialists organized the overthrow of Thomas Sankara, a
revolutionary leader, in Burkina Faso. The Iranian revolution was
attacked by Saddam Hussein of Iraq, with US and French support, and a
grinding war deepened the wearing down of the Iranian revolution. The
Palestinians took new defeats. The Soviet bloc went into terminal
decline in the later Brezhnev era (and remember, Nicaragua was refused
decisive aid by Brezhnev, not the "wicked" Gorbachev who is often blamed
for all the previous and subsequent problems).
I have come to doubt that Nicaragua could have done anything that would
have reversed such a broad counter-trend.
But one thing they failed to do was not to nationalize capitalist
property, but to turn over capitalist landlord property to individual
private owners. The frustration of the peasants demands to own their
own land did serious damage, and made it much easier for the contras to
take hold among sections of the peasants. While sweeping
nationalizations of anything and everything in industry and trade would
have done little under the circumstances but bring things to a halt, in
my opinion under those circumstances, giving the peasants the land
demanded would have undercut the contras, who would have had to oppose
the reform. And it would have made the post-revolutionary Nicaragua, if
there had to be one, a more modern society less amenable to
thoroughgoing imperialist domination. (Although one reason for
Nicaragua's extreme and deepening poverty today is actually the
imperialists' lack of confidence in its capacity to adequately protect
In general, after a few years, the Nicaraguan leadership adapted to the
situation and began to be absorbed by the corruption and rot of the
revolutionary leadership, the growing reliance on administrative methods
(the draft and states of emergency and also bourgeois elections) to stay
in power. The main loss, in the long run I suspect, from the failure to
push through a fight for land to the tillers, was that it contributed to
this bourgeoisification of the leadership as well as leaving a less
favorable relationship of forces for the next round of struggle.
The World System according to H.M. Rubinelli, T.E.hat feels obliged to
differentiate itself from all and sundry, unlike in Venezuela, where
there are a number of groups which are likely to start from not from
politics but from a strictly enforced rulebook on trade-union strikes.)
Ecuador remains a capitalist mixed economy, not an anticapitalist one,
but the class struggle and Chavez's national-revolutionary leadership
move into the opening, have shifted the relationship of forces slightly
in our favor and against OUR MAIN ENEMY in Washington.
In the reality of world and national politics and economy, the rejection
of mixed economy was never an option for Nicaragua and still isn't. A
general nationalization of industry and trade would have had the same
result as the attempts to enforce the "community of goods" had in some
mediaeval German towns: economic ruin, opposition growing from all the
affected classes, and utter and complete defeat.
The necessity of the mixed economy in the countries of the Latin America
is the foundation of the role that alliances across class lines against
imperialism in semicolonial countries -- and such alliances can happen,
will happen, and are politically necessary.
They happened in China, they happened in Vietnam, they happened in Cuba,
they have happened in Venezuela, and there are going to be a lot more of
them. It is also why it is wrong for a revolutionary leadership in a
revolutionary country, to attempt to seal the country off from its
neighbors, to fail to recognize regional economic integration as a
revolutionary-democratic anti-imperialist task.
3. The World System according to Mr. H.M. Rubinelli, T.E.
(The H.M. stands for Highly Magnified, the T.E. stands for Thoroughly
Educated and the whole idea will be recognized by fans of L. Frank
Baum's The Land of Oz.)
For Rubinelli, there are no oppressed or oppressor countries. The
relationship of oppression between imperialist and semicolonial nations
has become the relationship between a big imperialist firm and its
branch offices and departments. Nations and their governments are part
of the big imperialist firms. The national question has not been
resolved, but abolished by imperialism, which has effectively create one
great firm wherever they reach. The related peasant question has also
been abolished by the tentacles of imperialism.
The main enemy is thus "the capitalists" of all countries without
differentiation. The Brazilian government is as much the main enemy of
Brazilian workers as the US government. And the Brazilian government is
as much the main enemy of US workers as the US government. It is all a
matter of corporations and their branch offices in different countries.
It really doesn't matter much whether the US invaded Iraq, or Iraq
invaded the US. All capitalists are the same, all capitalist actions
are the same, and to differentiate and politically act on the
differentiation is "popular frontism," which describes any struggle or
conflict in which the participants cross class lines -- that is, all
conflicts and struggles.
All revolutions have been "scotched in the cradle" Cuba, China, Vietnam,
Venezuela -- all essentially the same, all rulers serving the basic
interests of imperialism on whatever foundation. All our main enemy,
just like Bush or Blair or Chirac.
All existing workers movements are treacherous and reactionary because
all make differentiations of different kinds among enemies. Few
recognize Fidel as perhaps the most deadly enemy of all because of his
demagogy. Fidel somehow managed to lead an anticapitalist revolution
despite having scotched it in the cradle, but in the end he is the
guardian of imperialism's interests in the alliance and will be
ultimately responsible for its inevitable restoration unless completely
new leadership comprehending the undifferentiated character of
imperialism, nations, bourgeoisies, and whatever according to
Rubinellian principles, can be forged in time. Which is not too likely
because at the moment there is pretty much just Rubinelli.
All the leaders of revolutions today are scabs. They scab on struggles
because it is their nature. Chavez scabs in Ecuador because he is the
biggest scab in Venezuela today. He is the head of imperialism's branch
And Fidel heads the branch office in Havana, even though he somehow
overthrew capitalism and preserved this gain for 45 years. He works for
the same boss as they all do. That's the world system.
Morales, if he is elected, will surely be the head of imperialist branch
office in La Paz. This is a settled matter. The masses, like the
masses in Ecuador and everywhere else, will be defeated because they
have already been betrayed. Only Rubinelli understands the
fruitlessness of struggle today -- stemming from the lack of Rubinellian
leadership, because, well, only Rubinelli truly understands, period.
Rubinelli is outraged that anyone would compare Fidel to Lenin (I agree
with Gorojovsky on that). Yet Rubinelli's whole outlook is based on the
conviction that none of the categories that Lenin used -- imperialism,
nations, self-determination, anti-imperialist struggle, the conflict
between oppressor and oppressed nations, oppressor and oppressed
nationalities, the peasantry, the worker-peasant alliance, even "the
main enemy is at home" in the imperialist countries -- apply to today's
world. All are outmoded, and those who utilize them are our enemies.
They have all been transformed into their opposites and not Lenin, but
only Rubinelli (the Marxist Wallerstein of the undifferentiated
post-imperialist World System) can be our guide in the new epoch.
The people of the world waste their lives in fruitless struggle under
traitorous leaderships that are their worst enemies. And only Rubinelli
has the answer, only Rubinelli knows the truth, only Rubinelli
understands the world, only Rubinelli understands that the
Differentiations either don't exist or don't matter anymore except for
the one between workers and capitalists.
And because none of us is able to quite get it, and because every class
division is guarded by the Rubinelli one-man picket line, nous sommes
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