[Marxism] Turning out like Walesa (was: Solidarity Center

Lou Paulsen loupaulsen at sbcglobal.net
Fri Aug 11 09:17:04 MDT 2006

Yoshie wrote in part,
If you wanna do something for the Vahed workers, you should do
something grassroots with other like-minded activists, while
cautioning them against the Solidarity Center.  Don't get
disappointed, however, if Vahed leaders -- though not their followers
-- turn out to be like Lech Walesa.

The thing is, the situation they are in is a very difficult one which very much tends to CAUSE serious and sincere labor leaders to turn out like Walesa.  Here you are, a sincere working-class leader with a gripe against the bourgeois government of Iran.  You start to organize.  You run into government repression.  Then, all of a sudden, there is a huge flock of new friends all around you, all of them very passionate in sympathy with you, and very hostile to the government that oppressed you and denies you your right to organize and your raise in pay.  And they all want to help you.  They will publicize your cause to the world.  People all over the world, government officials and influential politicians, will take up your cause!  Demonstrations will be held on your behalf!  They will conduct international diplomatic exercises to defend your rights and pry you out of your prison cell!  They will provide you expertise and advice and consulting services!  Maybe they will give
 you money for office expenses!  Maybe they will talk with you about how your country can have a liberal and democratic future, when it rejoins the world community!  You may not have thought so far ahead, but these are your new and powerful FRIENDS, after all, very experienced people with a lot of respect in the world!
(Meanwhile, the actual socialist left on the ground in your country is very weak, and the international socialist and anti-imperialist left is equally weak and probably doesn't even hear about your case until after the first group of friends has publicized it.)
You would have to be a very sophisticated leader, with a very good understanding of imperialism, NOT to be swept away by this.  The material factors are all pushing you into the arms of imperialism.  (This, by the way, is one of the contradictions facing any bourgeois nationalist government in the oppressed world - if you do not become "more" than just bourgeois nationalists, thus getting the workers "really" on your side, then the working class movement is pushed into making alliances with imperialism.)  Who is going to turn down such assistance?  You would have to have a level of consciousness far beyond ordinary "trade-union consciousness".  You would have to figure out how to somehow advance the demands of Iranian workers without weakening Iran against foreign imperialist attack.  In some ways this is already a contradiction, because in order to struggle against the government of Iran you HAVE to create disruption and instability, which just about necessarily weakens
 the Iranian government against foreign imperialist attack.  There is no recipe for this sort of thing.
And yes, this is just about all clearly analogous to the problems of agitating under the climate of socialist revisionism; after all, Walesa himself turned out like Walesa for a reason.  And the sad thing is that the record of even the very best revolutionaries and most sophisticated workers' leaders in finding a strategy for dealing with that kind of problem, from 1926 to the present day, is of solid lack of success.  So solid, and so universal, that it doesn't make sense to blame it on this bad strategy and that; it's just a very difficult kind of situation to be in.  The key is here, not there, that is, in organizing the working class of the imperialist countries so that we ourselves (the working classes, that is) can be "powerful friends" with resources and expertise.
Just my take on it,
Lou Paulsen

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