[Marxism] Petras' criticism of Fidel

Jscotlive at aol.com Jscotlive at aol.com
Fri Jul 11 00:40:57 MDT 2008

Joaquin writes:
And actually I'm not dragging in Stalinism by the hair here, on  the
contrary, a central part, perhaps the very heart of Fidel's  critique
of the FARC is that, as the armed wing of the Colombian CP, the  FARC
were never used as an instrument for the revolutionary mobilization  of
the people to seize power, but instead, in essence, as a  pressure
group, a resistance front, Fidel calls them, leaving implicit  the
underlying theme of the commentary, than in between the  guerrillas,
the paramilitaries, the narcotraffickers, etc. etc. etc. the  net
result was a weakening of the Colombian nation and its state  leaving
it ever more vulnerable to imperialist domination, penetration  and
manipulation. It is the same concept recently expressed by Hugo  Chavez
in terms something like that under prevailing conditions  this
guerrilla war serves as a pretext for imperialist meddling  and

For all Joaquin's attempt to attribute this interpretation to Fidel's  words, 
which in itself is a dubious practice, I find this utterly offensive. In  
effect, what Joaquin is attempting to do is blame the FARC for the depredations  
of successive proto-fascist Colombian regimes, backed up by the dollar, 
against  Colombia's poor and working class, along with their representatives.
So now we have dialectics turned on its head, whereby oppression does not  
breed resistance but rather resistance as the starting point is responsible for  
oppression, which without resistance would not exist in the first place!
Conveniently missing from Joaquin's analysis is an entire history of US  
'meddling' in the region as enshrined in the Monroe Doctrine of 1823. Has he  been 
sleeping over the past 30 years? Suddenly the people are to remain  quiescent 
in the face of both economic and military attack for fear of provoking  their 
Joaquin's entire orientation towards the FARC and their struggle is  hostile 
to the point where it seems he would welcome their surrender  and defeat at 
the hands of the Colombian oligarchy and their US  handlers. Missing from his 
entire analysis is any notion of solidarity or  even sympathy for those in 
That the FARC at this point are a wounded organisation, that their struggle  
would seem to have lost its way, is no reason to line up to stick the boot in. 
 From a Marxist perspective, this is utterly shameful. Marx was critical of  
the Paris Commune, you may recall, understanding as he did that it was doomed 
to  failure. But his solidarity with the Communards was implacable at a time 
when a  wave of reaction swept across Europe in the aftermath and sent the most 
of the  left at that time running for cover. Not Marx. In fact, his criticism 
of  the Commune was that they hadn't gone far enough, weren't ruthless 
enough: He  wrote, apropos of hostages:
“When Thiers, as we have seen, from  the very beginning of the conflict, 
enforced the human practice of shooting down  the Communal prisoners, the Commune, 
to protect their lives, was obliged to  resort to the Prussian practice of 
securing hostages. The lives of the hostages  have been forfeited over and over 
again by the continued shooting of prisoners  on the part of the Versailles. 
How could they be spared any longer  after the carnage with which MacMahon's 
praetorians[G] celebrated their entrance  into Paris?” 
Was even the last check upon the  unscrupulous ferocity of bourgeois 
governments — the taking of hostages — to be  made a mere sham of?” 
Again, as I have previously stated,  Joaquin in his entire analysis of this 
event has substituted a liberal moralism  for any Marxism that I recognise. The 
FARC are to be damned, it seems, because  they have failed, or are failing, 
in their armed struggle against the might of a  US backed and armed Colombian 
government, in a country in which trade unionists  and leftists are murdered at 
a rate which is staggering. The FARC are to be  damned, it seems, for 
inviting the presence of US imperialism into the region,  for threatening Cuba and 
I mean, this is ludicrous. In a very  real sense it reminds me of the story 
of the two men facing a firing squad. One  of the men turns to the other and 
says, "do you think we should ask for a  blindfold?" To which the other replies, 
"shut up and don't make  trouble." 
In the struggle between the  Colombian oligarchy and US imperialism against 
the FARC, my simple question to  Joaquin is this: 
Whose side are you  on? 


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