[Marxism] Re: Moderato's note

Fred Feldman ffeldman at verizon.net
Sat Nov 18 20:03:28 MST 2006

Walter Lippmann wrote:
(Though some in the West try to pit Cuba against China, that notion
doesn't sit very well in Cuba. Naturally, when the Soviet Union was
in existence, things were different, but today the two countries are
the closest of allies.
Fidel Castro on the 50th anniversary of
the triumph of the Chinese Revolution:

Louis replied:

You have to give this stuff a rest. Unless you can stop proselytizing
Marxmail with this same-old, same-old, you will soon join Yoshie. My strong
recommendation is to send only one of these a week or so. You live in Los
Angeles, California, don't you? Here are some things that would be worth
hearing about....


But time has come for you to adjust to Marxmail and not for Marxmail to
adjust to you.


And I respond:

Well, it sounds like Louis is ready to take the great step: unsubbing
Walter.  It will be a big one.  I can't think of a bigger blow that could be
struck to the value of this list.


Let's remember that this discussion basically began with a member of the
list, not committed to one side or the other on any of the disputed
questions, who challenged the list owner's constant challenges to whatever
Walter writes on matters great and small.


And the heart of it is disagreement with political positions held by Walter
that are by no means completely isolated on the list.  (Unlike, for
instance, Yoshie's fascination with Ahmadenijad as an Iranian Chavez.)


Frankly, since Louis is the moderator and owner of the list, he should speak
as such and not claim to represent "the list."  For me, Walter's
contributions are indispensable as information, on which I place a high
value,  So frankly, as a genuine member of "the list," what Walter has to do
to satisfy me is exactly nothing.  If Louis wants to speak for the list, he
should do a straw poll on those he wants to unsub.  

I am sure he would have less support in Walter's case than in Yoshie's or
Rubinelli's, and I consider both of those to be losses to the list. (I have
no idea what caused Rubinelli to be unsubbed.  I saw a problem in Yoshie's
case but frankly, that was partly because I wasn't confident enough about my
own views on Iran to present my own
pro-Iranian-revolution-and-its-real-living-conquests to her plunge into


By the way, I think that both Rubinelli-Artesian and Yoshie were losses to
the list on balance.  On the whole we have not benefited.  That fact ought
to be taken into account in Walter's even more important case.


Yoshie's error was really an extreme example of a broad course correction on
the US left toward Iran (with almost only Jack Barnes, but NOT so far the US
SWP as exceptions) in response to the US threats.  This has happily
contradicted my original pessimistic projections.  This healthy response to
the US threats has been strongly reflected on the list.



At the same time, I would suggest to Walter that his motivations for various
useful submissions have become too, well, the word that occurs to me is
"factional".  Everyone one the list knows that when he refers to "some in
the West" who pit Cuba against China, he really means some on the list
(though the reference to the West is factually true. And it seems to me that
on the list, his position is rather less isolated than his "some"
continually tends to imply. So why not just pass on the vague polemic and
just present the useful information, with an appropriate headline, as he


The headline to his article clearly explained his political point, and did
not require any introduction at all, or even a much more minimal one.  I
frankly often submit articles without elaborate explanations, because I
write on these subjects or related ones, and hardly anyone except the newest
on the list  will suspect that I am for US occupation of Sudan or Iran or
whatever is being advocated in the article.


I think it is legitimate to provide information to the lsit without one's
own high-level analysis.  Sometimes I embody my opinion in a title, but
sometimes not.

Frankly, I am interested not only what I think is important in the clipping,
but in what everybody else thinks is important, which often reveals [points
I had missed.


On China and Vietnam, Cuba's strategic alliance with them is not based
primarily on their being "workers states" but on their being in a
fundanmental conflict with imperialism, at least to the degree that it leads
them to seek a strategic relationship with Cuba (and Iran, etc.). But I
think the tendency to see China and Vietnam as simply successful bourgeois
counterrevolutions misses a fundamental factor: the desperate need of these
counhries under present world conditions for substantial CAP-TIALIST


I think it is inevitable that Cuba is going to make a major opening to
capitalist investment, and I think much of what the Castro leadership has
been doing to strengthen and orient the mass organizations (including the
army, which has been led by Raul, in my opinion, in the spirit of a vibrant
mass organization) is not aimed at blocking this but at PREPARING it.  I
have no doubt that a lifting of the US blockade would precipitate this
within months, but even if the US stays as stubborn as this group of
imperialists is likely to be, the change of course in Cuba will come anyway.


Of course, this preparation has and will highlight the difference between
Cuba and China and (to a slightly lesser degree) Cuba and Vietnam.


But it will challenge us to think more as materialists about what is an
anticapitalist course, and the turnings and twistings it can experience in
trying to advance the economy in a world still dominated by imperialism.  I
think we will have to look at the fact that the NEP represented a retreat
for the Russian revolution, primarily becauser it was adopted long after it
should have been and after an ultraleft and administrative bender under the
pressures of the civil war.  (Remember Trotsky said he was for an NEP in
1920, and turned toward ultraleft proposals about merging the unions and the
state when this was rejected,


By the way, I think it is a mistake to suggest to an individual what to
write about if he  or she does not want to be unsubbed. If Louis wants to
make suggestions for what he would like to see on the list, and he has every
right to do so as owner or even simply a member,  he should make it to the
whole list and not in the form of a threat to an individual whose
contributions to the list (warts and all, a proviso that applies to all of
us) have been very valuable.

Fred Feldman

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