[Marxism] RE: Berkeley, Bogdan Denitch, YPSL, ISC

Brian Shannon Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Thu Nov 3 17:55:22 MST 2005

“But the ISC did not call Cuba a capitalist state, and neither do its 
direct heirs.”

I am sorry that I made this mistake. Seeing Joel Geier as one of the 
national leaders and now seeing this site, 
http://www.biography.ms/International_Socialists_%28US%29.html, which 
claims to explain the background to the ISO, it appears to me that 
there is sufficient historical linkage to the Berkeley and other ISCs 
to consider the ISO in most respects a “direct heir.” I believe that my 
error consists of saying “the ISC position that calls Cuba a capitalist 
state …” That is not so much a mistake as sloppiness, for I knew 
better. Likewise, I should not have said “They are unquestionably doing 
better now” without asserting that in my opinion the ISO is a 
continuation of the ISCs. As the above site points out, my “they” 
covers several years of development.

In any case, the ISO does adopt a state capitalist position. I skipped 
over the transition period during which a more consistent and more 
theoretically sound description was adopted by the direct heirs and new 

Personally, I do not object to the term State Capitalism so long as it 
embodies the concept that there has been a workers revolution and that 
it is a progressive socio-economic form. In other words, for me it is 
an acceptable name or short-hand identification if it in every way 
embodies what Trotsky’s more official followers called a “workers 

“On the other hand the ISO does call Cuba state capitalist. This is 
neither ‘buried’ nor has it posed any dilemmas so far. If the ISO can 
defend a capitalist Iraq against US occupation, why can’t it do the 
same for a capitalist Cuba? I’ve been in state cap groups for decades, 
and seen us tear ourselves apart over every conceivable issue, but 
never over Cuba.”

It would not be the same at all for the reasons that I indicate in my 
original post. No socialist here identifies with either the Muslim 
religion or more secular, but purely nationalist, Iraq freedom 
fighters. On the other hand, the Cuban Revolution, its leadership, its 
body of statements, its language defending socialism, its relationship 
to organizations and individuals around the world who claim to be 
socialist is entirely different from the issue of Iraq.

Your statement that you don’t see any difference between defending a 
capitalist Iraq and a capitalist Cuba is a sign that this is a pure 
abstraction for you. The Cuban Revolution, its historical development, 
its relationship to U.S. imperialism, etc., and on and on and on, is 
qualitatively different in every category that matters to socialists. 
It does and would make a lot of difference to all of them and to 
millions of sympathizers around the world.

Now whether or not it “tears” the ISO apart may be debatable. I perhaps 
overreached with this expression. But if it wouldn’t tear it apart, 
given the scenario that I described (military conflict between the U.S. 
and Cuba and an active Defense of Cuba movement in the U.S., while the 
ISO continued to call for the overthrown of the Cuban leadership), then 
your organization is not nearly as good as everyone reports it to be.

Brian Shannon

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